Sunday, June 27, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 71-75


The infant restored Church of Jesus Christ had very little hierarchy--the Prophet Joseph Smith functioned not only as a Prophet who interacted with heavenly beings in visions, as a President who directed the temporal affairs of the new Church [Jesus Christ as its head], and as a translator/interpreter of scripture and revealer of doctrine, but he also walked through the mud on rescue missions, lived as a houseguest in other people's homes, personally helped individual members with problems, acted as an itinerant preacher in his travels, struggled to make a living for his family, and, in December of 1831, ran a public relations campaign to recover the Church's reputation after Ezra Booth's anti-Mormon letters were published. (See previous post.)

Section 71:

Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in aproclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the bmysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.

Verily I say unto you, proclaim unto the world in the regions round about, and in the church also, for the space of a season, even until it shall be amade known unto you.

Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you.

Ira Ames, from Huntsman-Gifford
(Click on the link to read Ira's journal)

God can create positive benefits from negative events, and that is often the case with anti-Mormon criticisms. My husband recently came across the story of Ira and Charity Ames, who were both converted in part because of the criticism of others, including Ezra Booth's letters. Ira Ames wrote in his personal history: 

"About this time [August 1830] I read some letters that were written by a man named Booth who had been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He had apostatized and was very severe against the work. When reading his letters, I left an impression that there was something in Mormonism." 

Ira then received a letter from his mother, whom he had not seen in years, telling him that she and some of his siblings had joined the Church. "My mother and sister Sally and Jared Carter [Ira's wife's brother] and Lydia had moved previous to this to Cherango County near Norwich, State of New York and were living not far from each other. When reading over my mothers letter it ran through me like lightning it roused every feeling of my mind, the effect was powerful." He tried to share this excitement with his wife, Charity, but she laughed and ridiculed him for his gullability.

In June of 1832, Jared Carter visited him for several days and taught him the gospel. "He seemed to me filled with light, he answered all my questions to my satisfaction, and gave out many ideas I had never thought of." Jared then baptized Ira in the river and told him that he now had the privilege to receive the Holy Ghost. 

"On the way back while pondering over what Jared had taught me, a bright light burst on my mind. Many passages of Scripture came most plain and clear to my mind. I understood the work of these last days. I was full of intelligence and light and had a full evidence of the truth of Mormonism. And realized what Jared had been telling me that it was my privilege to obtain from the Lord in relation to the gifts. Jared further informed me before he left that a conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was to be held in the town of Benson, Vermont on August 10th at my wife's father's house, Jabez Carter. He also informed me that two of my wife's brothers Luman and Daniel Carter had joined the church and also many others of her relations and friends. In fact, the work had taken deep hold in her family." 

Two brethren of the Church visited the Ames home shortly which angered Charity, Ira's wife. This anger festered and grew. "One morning in the forepart of August, I had been reasoning with my wife in mildness, meekness and calmness, when she suddenly seized her infant son and left the house determined never to live with me again. She knew that the Methodist circuit preacher was at John Shadins house about a mile from my house. When she reached the house they were at breakfast, the doors all open, and the Methodist preacher sat in such a manner that he saw my wife as she approached the kitchen door. He called aloud to her as she approached, 'Ah Mrs. Ames, how is that Mormon husband of yours? If I had been to your house when those two fellows were there I would have cracked their heads together.' (Slapping his hands together up over his head.) All this was said in a sneering, jeering, mocking tone and manner. It had a powerful effect on the mind of my wife, who turned instantly about without speaking and returned home. She told me she was convinced I was right, told me of the preachers words and that she saw that he was full of a devilish spirit. And from that moment was a humble, obedient, quiet, dutiful wife. I never saw so great a change in anyone. She said she was willing to be subject to me, to gather with the Saints or do whatever I saw proper, for she saw the difference in my spirit and that preachers" (Ira Ames, Journal, accessed online at


Section 72 details the work of the bishops, and tells the Saints that they need permission from the Kirtland bishop to get an inheritance in good standing with the Independence (Zion) bishop. As mentioned in a previous post, many people didn't follow this direction, one of the problems that led to the dissolution of Zion in Missouri.

24 A few words in addition to the laws of the kingdom, respecting the members of the church—they that are aappointed by the Holy Spirit to go up unto Zion, and they who are bprivileged to go up unto Zion—

25 Let them carry up unto the bishop a acertificate from three elders of the church, or a certificate from the bishop;

26 Otherwise he who shall go up unto the land of Zion shall not be accounted as a wise steward.


Section 73, received in early January, tells Joseph and Sidney their mission is accomplished and they are to return to the Bible effort. As they do so, they encounter a scripture they do not understand, which leads to the revelation in Section 74.


Section 74 solves a theological problem that has confounded many religions. If people are born into a fallen world, are those people born sinful? As Joseph Smith read 1 Corinthians 7:14, he was confused and asked the Lord for clarification. Steven C. Harper writes that Jewish husbands wanted their infant sons circumcised to show a covenant to obey the law of Moses, but their "Christian wives believed that Christ's atonement satisfied the law of Moses and that baptism was the new token of the gospel covenant." Because of circumcision, the idea had arisen that children were born unholy and circumcision remedied that problem. Paul counseled Christians not to marry Jews unless they agreed to let the children be raised Christian (Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 74). Thanks to this early understanding, we Latter-day Saints know that babies and children are holy, sanctified by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Ira Ames from Latter Day Light
(Definitely click on that link above 
if you want more really interesting 
information about Ira Ames)


And now we are in the year 1832. The Church is not yet 2 years old. Section 75 is a mission call to a number of brethren, including Gideon Carter and Sylvester Smith. 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, I who speak even by the avoice of my Spirit, even bAlpha and Omega, your Lord and your God—

Hearken, O ye who have agiven your names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to bprune my vineyard.

Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be aidle but blabor with your might—

Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, aproclaiming the btruth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.

And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many asheaves, and bcrowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.

On the 6th of August, Brother Ames went to Benson to the conference his brother-in-law had told him about. He met with ridicule and criticism of "Joe Smith" on his way there. The wild tales troubled him so severely that he went to bed with great anxiety on his mind. In the night he was visited by an angel in a dream three times who told him to wake up and read Isaiah chapter 11. He read about the rod coming forth out of the stem of Jesse, and the root of Jesse standing as an ensign to the people, gathering Israel from among the Gentiles. He felt a confirmation that he was a part of this work. 

"I was satisfied and felt to rejoice and thank the Lord for his kindness in manifesting the thing to me and I told Him it was enough... [I went on] to the Conference where I met Orson Pratt, Lyman Johns[on], Sylvester Smith and Jared Carter and Gideon [Carter] and about twelve other members of the church. I was very young in the Church and knew but little but thought I knew it all. And then when Orson Pratt, Lyman, Sylvester and others spoke to us, they unfolded new principle after new principle, glory after glory, until my Soul was fed with fatness, and I wept many tears of joy" (Ira Ames, Journal, linked previously).

"From 1835 through 1836, Ira worked on the temple, slept rolled in a blanket on the Prophet’s floor at night to guard against the depredations of the mob, kept the temple books in order, was assigned to receive tithing and donations, and was chorister at the Kirtland temple dedication" (Barton Golding, "Ira Ames,", Oct. 26, 2018).

"In 1846 Ira moved his family to Council Bluffs. 'We remained at the bluffs farming and raising stock, being greatly blessed and prospered until the year 1851.' In the summer of 1851, Ira and his family traveled with the Easton Kelsey Company to the Salt Lake Valley. 'We arrived in the Valley on the 22nd or 23rd day of September and my heart was poured out in thankfulness to God that I was once more with his true Servants, in the chambers of the Lord, in the tops of the Mountains. I felt heavenly. I felt I was at home again'" (Golding).

Brother Ames spent the last ten years of his life in Cache Valley, Utah, where he died at the age of 65. He is buried in the Wellsville, Utah Cemetery.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 67-70

 Section 67 begins:

Behold and hearken, O ye elders of my church, who have assembled yourselves together, whose prayers I have heard, and whose hearts I know, and whose desires have come up before me.

Behold and lo, mine eyes are upon you, and the heavens and the earth are in mine hands, and the riches of eternity are mine to give.

Ye endeavored to believe that ye should receive the blessing which was offered unto you; but behold, verily I say unto you there were fears in your hearts, and verily this is the reason that ye did not receive.

Here are some questions for us to think deeply upon: 

What fears are in our hearts? 

And what blessings are we not receiving because of those fears?

Now that I am 57 years old I have seen a lot of life. Due to the number of children and the variety of mothering opportunities I have been blessed to experience--this is a very long story--sometimes it feels as if I have experienced 114 years of life packed into those 57 years! Looking back, I can see that many of my greatest fears actually happened. Sometimes I thought these fears would overcome me and I would never be okay again. But with each of these challenges, came great blessings (over time) as the Lord was ready to help. With each of these blessings, came greater faith in the Lord. With greater faith in the Lord comes less fear.

What great fears have happened to you?

What blessings did you receive by facing those fears and turning to the Lord?

Here is the great blessing the Lord promised to the Saints at this conference:

10 And again, verily I say unto you that it is your privilege, and a promise I give unto you that have been ordained unto this ministry, that inasmuch as you strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, and humble yourselves before me, for ye are not sufficiently humble, the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual.

Let us note that jealousy is just a type of fear, right? It's the fear that we are not good enough or that we do not have enough.

If we strip ourselves of fear, we will get mighty blessings from the Lord--even knowing Him and being united with Him. The Kirtland Saints actually saw the Lord as the veil was parted between heaven and earth at the dedication of their temple a few years later. It was an amazing event, which we will read about later. For us, the veil may be rent in other ways, and we may "see" the Lord in other ways.

In Section 68, four departing missionaries (Orson Hyde, Luke and Lyman Johnson, and William McLellin) are told by the Lord:

Wherefore, be of good acheer, and do not bfear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I cwas, that I am, and that I am to come.

This is the word of the Lord unto you, my servant Orson Hyde, and also unto my servant Luke Johnson, and unto my servant Lyman Johnson, and unto my servant aWilliam E. McLellin, and unto all the faithful elders of my church—

aGo ye into all the world, bpreach the gospel to every ccreature, acting in the dauthority which I have given you, ebaptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Each of these brethren responded to this call and faced the fears they encountered in a different way. Each of them was so overcome by fear at some time in their life that they left the Church. Two of them came back.  I'm sure we cannot comprehend their times, their culture, their challenges. They were all young men; they were all new converts. They lived and worked near the Prophet Joseph Smith and saw his ordinariness along with his extraordinariness. But learning from them (with compassion) may be instructive for us, as we face our fears in staying true to the faith, and as we maintain relationships with beloved family members and friends who choose to leave the faith.

Two points are important to remember here: 

1) Although D&C 68:25 tells us that if we don't teach our children properly concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ, "the sin be upon the heads of the parents," that word "sin" is singular. It is not the sins the children commit that will be upon the parents' heads--it is the sin of not teaching the children that will be upon their heads. It is a grave error to assume that we can control what our children choose to do by the way that we teach. This would be in direct opposition to the plan of our Heavenly Father.

2) "This life" is the time to prepare to meet God, but "this life" includes the spirit world after our mortal life; there is no Judgment until after that time. The spirit world is one great mission field. No one is completely finished with living and learning when they die. That includes the early Saints who were all beginners at Sainthood, and had no family history of Church membership, and that includes us and our children who are living in a different but also wicked world. It is very possible that all four of these early Saints are now great missionaries and leaders in the post-existence.

William McLellin

William McLellin was discussed in the previous blog post. Being a schoolteacher made William McLellin very educated and respected in his day--perhaps equivalent to holding a doctorate degree today. 

Orson Hyde

Orson Hyde was a genius, pure and simple. He had a photographic memory and "when anyone quoted one verse [of the Bible], [he] could quote the English, German, [or] Hebrew" (Susan Easton Black, Who's Who in the Doctrine and Covenants, Bookcraft, 142). He traveled east in the United States with Samuel Smith on his first mission. He served in Zion's Camp. He was one of the first Apostles to serve a mission to England where a great harvest of souls was reaped. 

For about six months in 1838-1839, he was one of the apostates. He signed a slanderous document against the Prophet, which caused great distress and damage. He confessed and apologized sincerely in the spring and was restored to his previous position and remained faithful for the rest of his life. 

In the 1840s he served an arduous mission to Israel to dedicate Jerusalem for the returning of the Jews and for the building of a temple. When he returned from this mission, he was called to St. Petersburg, Russia, but that call was changed to Washington, D.C. to plead the cause of the Saints in their persecutions to the government (Black, 143).

Luke and Lyman Johnson

Luke and Lyman were the sons of Elsa Johnson, whose miraculous healing inspired the baptism of Ezra Booth. They became brothers-in-law to Orson Hyde when he married their sister Marinda Nancy Johnson in 1834 (Joseph Smith Papers; Brian and Laura Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy). 

Luke served a mission to the eastern states and another to the southern states. He was a fun-loving guy who played a trick on one of his investigators who had been waiting upon a direct voice from an angel to tell him to join the Church by climbing a ladder to the man's bedroom window and whispering loudly, "Ezekial! Ezekial! Ezekial! Repent! Repent! Repent!" Apparently, it worked.

Luke left the Church after two successful missions because of the financial crises that hit the United States and crushed the Kirtland church bank in 1838. In the ensuing years, he studied medicine and became a doctor. Finally, eight years later, he was rebaptized by his brother-in-law Orson in 1846 in Nauvoo (Joseph Smith Papers) and was never again troubled by that fear that shook his faith in Kirtland. He journeyed with the 1847 company of pioneers to Salt Lake City and settled in Tooele County, Utah. He died suddenly at the age of 54 at Marinda and Orson's home while he was in Salt Lake City on business. 

Luke's brother Lyman served his mission to the eastern states with Orson Pratt. He served in Zion's Camp and was the first Apostle called in this dispensation at the young age of 23. But in 1837 he began his decline into apostacy over his personal financial loss. The following April he was excommunicated for "bringing distress to the innocent, assaulting Phineas Young, not attending Church meetings, failing to observe the Word of Wisdom, and unrighteous conduct" (Black, 158-9). Although he never served another mission, he sent Heber C. Kimball off on his mission to England with his own cloak, and that cloak served seven missions to the British Isles--three times on Brother Kimball's back and four times on Parley Pratt's.

Lyman is reported by Brigham Young to have said, "I would suffer my right hand to be cut off, if I could believe [in the Church] again. Then I was full of joy and gladness. My dreams were pleasant. When I awoke in the morning my spirit was cheerful. I was happy by day and by night, full of peace and joy and thanksgiving. But now it is darkness, pain, sorrow, misery in the extreme. I have never since seen a happy moment" (Black, 159). Lyman became an attorney in Iowa and died at age 45 in an sleighing accident on the frozen Mississippi River.

In Section 70, the Lord warned the Saints to share their temporal blessings, and that became quite a difficult challenge for many of the Saints, Luke and Lyman included.

14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be aequal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be bwithheld.

In addition to the financial greed and ensuing jealousies that broke some Saints apart from their faith, these four men had the intellectual and educational superiority that sometimes makes it hard to be humble and honor a prophet who is younger, rougher, poorer, and less educated.

The Rest of the Story

After the Saints left Kirtland, the city never regained its glory. Nearby Cleveland and Akron became bustling centers of industry, but Kirtland remained a small town, with a population of as little as 900. But the Lord did not forget His promise that the Church in Kirtland would rise again.

In 1954 the editor of the Cleveland Press wrote, "If Joseph Smith, the dedicated and courageous founder of the Mormon Church, were living today, he would take special pride in the news that a new Mormon Chapel shortly will be built on Lake Avenue near Edgewater Park" (quoted in Karl Ricks Anderson, Joseph Smith's Kirtland, 374). About 1,000 members of the Church lived in the Cleveland/Kirtland area at the time. In 1956, the Church purchased its first historic property in its mission to restore Kirtland. That purchase was the John and Elsa Johnson home.

In 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball traveled to Ohio and conducted a missionary-oriented meeting at the Cleveland Colliseum, attended by 19,000 people. Nearly 1,000 baptisms resulted from that inspirational meeting.

From 1979 to 1986 President Ezra Taft Benson traveled to Kirtland five times, meeting with descendants of the early Saints who had left the Church and remained in Ohio. When the Kirtland Stake was reorganized in 1983, "a substantial portion of the members were descendants of the earlier Kirtland Saints." Efforts were then made to connect descendants whose ancestors had traveled west with the Saints with their cousins whose ancestors had stayed behind. This was the case with the siblings Luke, Lyman, and Marinda Johnson and their family was one of the first to reestablish ties between Utah and Ohio descendants when Grant Johnson and his wife from Utah were called on a mission to the Kirtland area and met with cousins they never knew (Anderson, 384).

(Personal note: In 2006, my husband and I took our youngest four children on a Church History cross-country tour, as we had done previously with our older children. When we visited Kirtland, we attended the indoor musical pageant, "This is Kirtland," performed by the Kirtland Stake. It was exceptionally good and was one of the highlights of our trip.)

What can we learn from this portion of the Doctrine and Covenants and this time in the history of the Church that we can apply in our lives?

1) Don't assume that righteousness will equal financial gain or you are likely to consider the loss of your money as cause for a loss of faith.

2) Don't allow your education and intelligence to put you in a position to criticique Church leaders and members past and present. The glory of God is intelligence, so get all the intelligence you can, but know where your learning stops and the intelligence of God takes over. Never reverse the two. Smarter people than you (such as Orson Hyde) have kept the faith to the end of their lives. 

3) Reach out to your extended family members whether or not they believe the same way you do. The gathering of Israel, the key commission of the dispensation of the fullness of times, is all about family connections.

4) Share the gospel wherever you go, and always be willing to serve. The gospel is the way to navigate this life in happiness and to find joy in the eternities.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Doctrine and Covenants 64-66

Recap: The Saints had begun gathering to Ohio in early 1831. In late spring a large group of New York Saints joined them. The Lord then instructed the Saints that this was only a stopping point along the way, but despite that, they should "act upon this land for years" (D&C 51:17) and it would turn unto their good. By mid-summer, the final location was announced as Jackson County, Missouri. The Saints were to move there slowly, over years, so as not to overwhelm and alarm the frontier town. 

Section 64 reads:

21 I will not that my servant Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I, the Lord, will to retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years, in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some.

22 And after that day, I, the Lord, will not hold any aguilty that shall go with an open heart up to the land of Zion; for I, the Lord, require the bhearts of the children of men.

If after 5 years the Lord would not hold any guilty for moving to Jackson County, we can presume that he would hold people guilty for going earlier if not commanded. As discussed in the previous lesson, many did not wait 5 years to go up to Zion, and perhaps partly because of that, there was no Zion in Jackson County when the 5 years came. The Saints were driven out of Jackson in 2 years. (See Chronology of Church History.) By November of 1833, they were fleeing for their lives to Clay County.

Would we be willing to stop at someplace we knew was only halfway to Utopia? It wouldn't have been easy. Yet those who did "act upon [the] land as for years" were still in Kirtland for the marvelous dedication of the Kirtland Temple in 1836!

Section 64 promises that the Saints will get to Zion if they can forgive each other and if they can share what they have with each other.  These are two very, very difficult commandments to follow which most of us struggle with throughout our lives.

Section 65 tells us that we should pray for the Lord's Kingdom to come on the earth, for that day when Christ shall be king. An interesting note is made by Steven Harper:

"In 1838, Judge Austin King charged Joseph Smith with treason and confined him in jail at Liberty, Missouri, for teaching the doctrines given in section 65. Parley P. Pratt wrote that Judge King 'inquired diligently into our belief of the seventh chapter of Daniel concerning the kingdom of God, which should subdue all other kingdoms and stand forever.' The Saints testified that they believed the prophecy, and Judge King instructed his clerk, 'Write that down; it is a strong point for treason.' The Saints' attorney objected. Is the Bible treason? The next time he was charged with treason, Joseph did not escape. A month after 'setting up the kingdom of Daniel by the word of the Lord' and declaring his intent to 'revolutionize the whole world,' Joseph Smith's life was ended abruptly by a lunch mob in Carthage, Illinois, on June 27, 1844" (Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants: A Guided Tour through Modern Revelation, electronic version, Deseret Book, 400).

Section 66 is a personal revelation to Brother William E. McLellin, which he wrote as the Prophet dictated it. Brother McLellin's mother was a Cherokee, making him half Lamanite, if you believe the Cherokee tribes descend from the Book of Mormon peoples as I do and as the early Saints did (Joseph Smith Papers). Brother McLellin, a brand-new convert, wanted to try the Lord and His prophet Joseph Smith by asking for the answers to 5 questions that were very important to him, but without telling the Prophet that he had these questions. That evening, he wrote the revelation in his journal and added that it "gave great joy to my heart because some important questions were answered which had dwelt upon my mind with anxiety and yet with uncertainty." He never revealed what the questions were, but he had asked in faith and received a testimony because of them (Harper, 403).

Harper reports that Brother McLellin used his journal after this point as an "accountability report" on his obedience to this revelation. In his honesty of writing, many lapses are recorded.

1) He set out on the mission he was called to, preaching the gospel and blessing the sick. He tried to "be patient in affliction," but the winter wore him down and he left his companion and returned to Kirtland around Christmastime of 1831. He was rebuked by the Lord in D&C 75:6-7 and called to service again.

2) He set out on the second mission, but his health and his faith waned, and he again left his companion. 

3) He took a job to earn money and he married, all while he was supposed to be on a mission, unencumbered by family obligations (D&C 66:10).

4) He and his bride dashed off to Jackson County, despite being commanded "go not up unto the land of Zion" (D&C 66:6).

5) He did not consecrate his money to the bishop there, but bought two lots on Main Street in Independence, after being commanded to "think not of [his own] property" (D&C 66:6).

Despite disobeying revelations given specifically to himself in answer to his questions, he still believed Joseph Smith to be a prophet and wrote as much in August 1832. Joseph Smith publicly called him out for his disobedience. 

Brother McLellin's time in the Church was brief but highly eventful. His faithfulness was rather like a yo-yo, with extreme highs and lows. He had requested the revelation now known as Section 66 shortly after joining the Church in 1831. Due to his disobedience, he was excommunicated in 1832, but soon after was reinstated. In 1833 and 1834 he served two short missions. He was called as an Apostle in 1835. He formally left the Church in 1836, but apparently changed his mind soon and rejoined. He was called again as an Apostle in 1837. He was excommunicated again in 1838, admitting that he had gone "his own way and indulged himself in his lustful desires." He was again excommunicated, this time never to return, and "he spent the rest of his long life struggling to resolve the dissonance between his unshaken testimony and his unwillingness to repent" (Joseph Smith Papers; Harper, 407). 

It is impossible for us to know what personal struggles Brother McLellin had in this life that made obedience so difficult for him. But he never forsook his testimony of this revelation. In 1848, ten years after he and the Church parted ways, he wrote in his journal, "I now testify in the fear of God, that every question which I had thus lodged in the ears of the Lord of Sabbaoth, were answered to my full and entire satisfaction. I desired it for a testimony of Joseph's inspiration. And I to this day consider it to me an evidence which I cannot refute" (Journal entry, quoted in Harper, 404). He tried several break-off groups through the years, but finally left all organized religion. William McLellin died in 1883 in Independence, Missouri at the age of 78.