Section 51
Bishop Edward Partridge and the Law of Consecration

Historical Background

In December 1830 the Lord instructed the Saints to gather in Ohio (see D&C 37:3). In May 1831, when the Saints had begun to respond, Edward Partridge, the newly appointed bishop of the Church, felt the responsibility of caring for them when they arrived in Ohio. The basic elements of the law of consecration had been given (see D&C 42), but many situations required more detailed answers. Bishop Partridge sought help from the Prophet Joseph Smith, who inquired of the Lord and received what is now section 51 of the Doctrine and Covenants.

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Lord endeavored to teach these members, in part, at least, and train them in the great principle of consecration as a preparatory step before they should be permitted to journey to Zion, for it was in keeping with this law upon which the City of Zion was to be built. Thus these saints from the East were to be organized according to the law of God. (Sec. 51:4–6.) This land in Ohio was in this manner to be consecrated unto them ‘for a little season,’ until the Lord should provide for them otherwise, and command them to go hence. (Sec. 51:15–16.)” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:204.)

The experience of Orson Pratt, who was present when Joseph Smith received this revelation at Thompson, Ohio, was reported as follows: “No great noise or physical manifestation was made; Joseph was as calm as the morning sun. But he noticed a change in his countenance that he had never noticed before, when a revelation was given to him. Joseph’s face was exceedingly white, and seemed to shine. The speaker had been present many times when he was translating the New Testament, and wondered why he did not use the Urim and Thummim, as in translating the Book of Mormon. While this thought passed through the speaker’s mind, Joseph, as if he read his thoughts, looked up and explained that the Lord gave him the Urim and Thummim when he was inexperienced in the Spirit of inspiration. But now he had advanced so far that he understood the operations of that Spirit, and did not need the assistance of that instrument.” (Millennial Star, 11 Aug. 1874, pp. 498–99.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 51:2. Why Does God Give Us Laws by Which We Are to Live?

In an address given at commencement services at Brigham Young University, Cecil B. DeMille, producer of the movie The Ten Commandments, spoke of the modern-day attitude toward law: “We are too inclined to think of law as something merely restrictive—something hemming us in. We sometimes think of law as the opposite of liberty. But that is a false conception. That is not the way that God’s inspired prophets and lawgivers looked upon the law. Law has a twofold purpose. It is meant to govern. It is also meant to educate.” (Commencement Address, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 31 May 1957], p. 4.)

Elder Richard L. Evans gave further reasons for God’s giving us laws: “What would a loving Father want for his children? What would any father want for his children? Peace and health and happiness; learning and progress and improvement; and everlasting life, and everlasting association with those we love. What less could heaven be? What less would a Father plan or propose, for those he loves, for those whom he made ‘in his own image’? (Gen. 1:27.) He has declared his work and his glory ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.’ (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 1:39). This is the ultimate objective. This is the whole purpose of the Gospel he has given.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1959, p. 127.)

D&C 51:3. How Does the Lord Define Equality?

The law of consecration was designed to make us equal in temporal things, but as President J. Reuben Clark Jr. pointed out, this equality is of a special kind. “One of the places in which some of the brethren are going astray is this: There is continuous reference in the revelations to equality among the brethren, but I think you will find only one place where that equality is really described, though it is referred to in other revelations. That revelation (D. & C. 51:3) affirms that every man is to be ‘equal according to his family, according to his circumstances and his wants and needs.’ (See also D. & C. 82:17; 78:5–6.) Obviously, this is not a case of ‘dead level’ equality. It is ‘equality’ that will vary as much as the man’s circumstances, his family, his wants and needs, may vary.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 55.)

J. Reuben Clark Jr.

J. Reuben Clark Jr. explained stewardships and inheritances under the law of consecration.

D&C 51:4–6. Why Did the Lord Want Inheritances in the Church to Be Secured in Writing?

President J. Reuben Clark Jr. explained: “The fundamental principle of this system was the private ownership of property. Each man owned his portion, or inheritance, or stewardship, with an absolute title, which he could alienate, or hypothecate, or otherwise treat as his own. The Church did not own all of the property, and the life under the United Order was not a communal life. . . . The United Order is an individualistic system, not a communal system.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1942, p. 57.)

President Clark further showed that a written title or deed was issued that satisfied the requirements of civil law and secured to an individual the rights of private ownership of property. The importance of such written agreements is evident when it is remembered that people had their agency to leave the united order. A written contract between the bishop and the individual secured the terms of the agreement when the person entered the order (see D&C 51:6). So even though a person acknowledged that all property ultimately belongs to God, for legal and practical purposes his deeded portion became his private property. It did not belong to the Church. This arrangement was true of the initial inheritance of land and buildings given to each person in the order. Any surplus earned from one’s stewardship was given to the Church.

“If anyone transgressed and was counted unworthy of membership in the Church, he also lost his standing in the society, but in that case he was to retain the property deeded to him, but have no claim on the portion set apart for the maintenance of the poor and needy” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 298).

People who chose to withdraw from the order often ended up with bitter feelings against the Church. Handling the transactions through legally constituted means provided protection for both the individual and the Church. “In the community there would always be some who would wish to draw out and, perhaps, embarrass the rest by lawsuits, or otherwise. In order to prevent such designs, just and equitable provisions were to be made and secured by legal agreements.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 298.)

Enrichment L in the Appendix explains the law of consecration more fully.

D&C 51:8. Why Did the Lord Have an “Agent” Appointed?

“The community was to be represented by an Agent, whose special duty it would be to handle the money required for food and clothing by the people. There is great wisdom manifested in the distribution of responsibilities. The Bishopric would receive the property, distribute it in ‘stewardships,’ and receive the earnings of each stewardship; the Agent would see to it that property was not unduly accumulated, but that the needs of all were supplied.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 298.)

D&C 51:9. How Were the Saints to Be Alike?

Under the united order everyone was alike in that they were independent and had full opportunity to use their gifts and talents in building the kingdom of God. They were also alike in that all had equal opportunity to benefit from whatever talents and abilities existed in the community. The idea that everyone was alike in goods possessed or income received is in error. The order was united in love, purpose, and commitment, but unity does not mean sameness. A couple with seven children has needs different from one just beginning married life.

D&C 51:10. What “Church” Is the Lord Referring To?

“The word ‘church’ in this paragraph stands for ‘Branch,’ as in Sec. 20:81; 45:64, and elsewhere. The meaning conveyed is that the property owned by the Colesville Branch could not be claimed by any other Branch.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 299.)

D&C 51:11–14. The Responsibility of the Bishop

The major responsibility for implementing the united order rested with the bishop.

D&C 51:17. Why Did the Lord Counsel the Saints to Act upon the Land “As for Years”?

People who locate in a home or apartment knowing that they will move to another in a short time may have a tendency to neglect Church attendance and other responsibilities. They rationalize, “Well, we won’t be here long.” The Lord wanted the Saints to live the gospel and share it in Ohio as though they were to be there for a long time.

Section 52
“Let Them Go Two by Two”

Historical Background

A gathering of the Church convened at Kirtland, Ohio, on 3 June 1831. So important was this conference that letters were sent to the missionaries calling them all to Kirtland (see D&C 44:1). Efforts were also made to bring the New York Saints to Ohio (see D&C 48:2–5).

During this conference a significant new office was conferred upon a number of the brethren, that of high priest in the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Prophet Joseph Smith received the spirit of prophecy and prophesied that John the Revelator was among the ten tribes preparing them to return from their long dispersion. (See History of the Church, 1:175–76). The Prophet recorded that “harmony prevailed” and “faith was strengthened” (History of the Church, 1:176). Many desired to obey the Lord’s commandments but were uncertain about what specifically they could do. On the day following the conclusion of the conference the Prophet was given specific calls and instructions in what is now Doctrine and Covenants 52.

Notes and Commentary

D&C 52:2. How Often Were Conferences Held?

The Lord had commanded that conferences of the Church be held every three months or as often as the Saints assembled in conference decided (see D&C 20:61). Usually the leaders of the Church decided in one conference the date and place of the next. The Lord in this revelation designated Missouri as the location of the next conference.

D&C 52:3, 7–8, 22–32. One Purpose of This Revelation

One purpose of this revelation was to call certain brethren to travel as missionaries from Ohio to Missouri. Twenty-eight missionaries were called in this revelation; however, thirty actually went—one of the original twenty-eight did not go, and three more were called later (see D&C 53, 55–56).

two missionaries

Missionaries go forth two by two.

D&C 52:9. The Standard by Which to Determine What Is Taught in the Church

In this revelation the Lord set a standard for missionaries and teachers: they should teach those things that He has revealed to His prophets and Apostles, that which is taught to them through the influence of the Holy Ghost. Many problems arise when people begin to offer their personal opinions as doctrines of the Church. In 1837 the Twelve Apostles wrote an epistle in which they warned: “Be careful that you teach not for the word of God the commandments of men, nor the doctrines of men, nor the ordinances of men, inasmuch as you are God’s messengers. Study the word of God, and preach it and not your opinions, for no man’s opinion is worth a straw. Advance no principle but what you can prove, for one scriptural proof is worth ten thousand opinions. We would moreover say, abide by that revelation which says ‘Preach nothing but repentance to this generation,’ and leave the further mysteries of the kingdom till God shall tell you to preach them, which is not now.” (History of the Church, 3:395–96.)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie bore the following testimony: “The truth of all things is measured by the scriptures. That which harmonizes with them should be accepted; that which is contrary to their teachings, however plausible it may seem for the moment, will not endure and should be rejected.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 765.)

D&C 52:14–19. The Pattern by Which One Can Avoid Deception

A pattern is a representative sample of traits, acts, or other features characterizing an individual. In these verses the Lord indicates that one observable feature of those who are inspired of God is that they obey the ordinances of the gospel. (See Notes and Commentary on D&C 50:10–27; see also Enrichment J in the Appendix.)

D&C 52:33. “And One Man Shall Not Build upon Another’s Foundation”

“Special instructions were also given to others of the elders, commanding them to go forth two by two in the proclamation of the word of God by the way, to every congregation where they could get a hearing. Though the western frontier of Missouri was their destination, they were commanded to take different routes and not build on each other’s foundation or travel in each other’s track.” (Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, p. 116.)

D&C 52:39. Who Does the Lord Command to “Labor with Their Own Hands,” and How Would Obedience to This Commandment Prevent Idolatry?

This instruction was given to those elders not assigned to go as missionaries to Missouri. These men were assigned to stay home and be the priesthood leaders for the Saints in Kirtland. By laboring with their own hands for their support, rather than being paid for their priesthood service, these brethren would help prevent idolatry and priestcraft from springing up in the Church (see 2 Nephi 26:29). Regarding the word idolatry in this verse, in the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord warned that one of the characteristics of the last days would be that “every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his God . . . whose substance is that of an idol” (D&C 1:16). Paul defined covetousness as idolatry (see Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5). When people set their hearts on natural things, or prestige, or power to the point that God is no longer supreme, then that becomes as god to them. They worship, or give allegiance to, those things. This verse suggests that if the elders who remained in Ohio did not labor with their own hands, they might be guilty of this kind of covetousness or idolatry.

D&C 52:43. What City Does the Lord Refer To in This Verse?

See Notes and Commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 42:35.

Section 53
A Call to Sidney Gilbert to Forsake the World

Historical Background

There is little information on Algernon Sidney Gilbert before he was introduced to the gospel in 1830. He was then the senior partner in the successful mercantile firm of Gilbert and Whitney in Kirtland, Ohio.

Sometime after he joined the Church, he was ordained an elder and sent to Missouri to buy land and operate a small store (see D&C 57:8). When mob violence broke loose, Sidney Gilbert closed his store upon request and helped appease the mob temporarily. On 23 July 1833 he, with others, offered himself as a ransom for the Saints. (See History of the Church, 1:391, 394n.) He was devoted and faithful and sacrificed all of his goods during the persecutions in Missouri. He lacked confidence in his ability to preach, however, and, according to some reports, he said he “would rather die than go forth to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles” (History of the Church, 2:118). Ironically, he later contracted cholera and died. Heber C. Kimball recorded in his journal that “the Lord took him at his word.” Elder B. H. Roberts wrote of Brother Gilbert, “The remarks in the body of the history, and this expression from Elder Kimball’s journal are liable to create a misunderstanding concerning Brother Algernon Sidney Gilbert, than whom the Lord has had few more devoted servants in this dispensation” (History of the Church, 2:118n).

Joseph Smith received section 53 in answer to the request of Sidney Gilbert, who desired to know what he was to do in the Church. The revelation came during a time of great excitement. A spiritual conference had ended, and many were assigned to go to Missouri and there receive further instructions from the Lord. In this revelation Algernon Sidney Gilbert was also called to go to Missouri and help with the work there as the bishop’s agent over the storehouse.

Notes and Commentary

D&C 53:1. “I Have Heard Your Prayers”

Many people secretly request to know the Lord’s will concerning them, but often the answer is too sacred to discuss with others. Sidney Gilbert’s request was not disregarded, for the Lord made known to him his calling and election in the Church. (See also D&C 6:22–24.)

D&C 53:2. What Does the Phrase “Forsake the World” Mean?

The phrase “forsake the world” is the commandment given to those who have entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord. They are to forsake the standards and habits of the apostate world. President George Q. Cannon taught: “We need to be born again, and have new hearts put in us. There is too much of the old leaven about us. We are not born again as we should be. Do you not believe that we ought to be born again? Do you not believe that we should become new creatures in Christ Jesus, under the influence of the Gospel? All will say, yes, who understand the Gospel. You must be born again. You must have new desires, new hearts, so to speak, in you. But what do we see? We see men following the ways of the world just as much as though they made no pretensions to being Latter-day Saints. Hundreds of people who are called Latter-day Saints you could not distinguish from the world. They have the same desires, the same feelings, the same aspirations, the same passions as the rest of the world. Is this how God wants us to be? No; He wants us to have new hearts, new desires. He wants us to be a changed people when we embrace His Gospel, and to be animated by entirely new motives, and have a faith that will lay hold of the promises of God.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, p. 50.)

D&C 53:3. Ordination to the Priesthood Is a Call to Serve Others

Sidney Gilbert was directed to become an elder and then to use that office in preaching faith, repentance, and the remission of sins, but his feelings of inadequacy in preaching the gospel prevented him from fully responding to the call. There is, however, an account of his successful missionary labors among his friends and family in Huntington, Connecticut (see History of the Church, 2:119).

D&C 53:4. What Were His Duties As an “Agent” unto the Church?

Sidney Gilbert’s calling was to receive monies for the Church and to buy land. He was to assist Edward Partridge in managing the temporal affairs of the Church in Missouri (see D&C 57:6–9).

Gilbert store

The store owned by Sidney Gilbert from which he administered temporal affairs in the Church.

Section 54
“Stand Fast in the Office Whereunto I Have Appointed You”

Historical Background

The Saints in New York had been commanded to gather to Ohio (see D&C 37:3; 38:32). The Lord commanded those Saints already living in Ohio to prepare for the influx of newcomers by giving of their lands to those immigrating, or, if they did not have lands to give, to help them buy available land. In good faith the Colesville Branch arrived in Thompson, Ohio, and settled on lands offered to them by other members of the Church. Shortly thereafter the offer was withdrawn, and the Saints from Colesville were forced to seek other places to live.

Newel Knight was appointed by the Colesville Branch to ask Joseph Smith to inquire of the Lord what they should do. B. H. Roberts recorded the following about these events: “It is difficult to determine with exactness in what the transgressions of the Saints at Thompson consisted; but it is evident that selfishness and rebellion were at the bottom of their trouble, and that Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre were immediately concerned in it. The Saints comprising the Colesville branch, when they arrived at the gathering place, in Ohio, were advised to remain together and were settled at Thompson, a place in the vicinity of Kirtland. . . . It is evident that some of the brethren already living at Thompson, had agreed to enter into the law of consecration and stewardship with the Saints from Colesville; and that afterwards they broke this covenant. Among these were Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre. ‘A man by the name of Copley,’ says Newel Knight in his journal, ‘had a considerable tract of land there [in Thompson] which he offered to let the Saints occupy. Consequently a contract was agreed upon, and we commenced work in good faith. But in a short time Copley broke the engagement, and I went to Kirtland to see Brother Joseph,’ etc. (Scraps of Biography, in which is published Newel Knight’s journal, ch. vi.) Of this matter, John Whitmer, then the Church Historian, writes: ‘At this time [the early part of June] the Church at Thompson, Ohio, was involved in difficulty because of the rebellion of Leman Copley, who would not do as he had previously agreed, which thing confused the whole Church, and finally the Lord spake through Joseph the Prophet, saying:’ He then quotes the revelation to Newel Knight. . . . —(John Whitmer’s History of the Church, chap. viii.)” (In History of the Church, 1:180n.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 54:2. What Was the Office to Which Newel Knight Was Appointed?

Newel Knight had been appointed to lead the Colesville Saints according to the instructions given in Doctrine and Covenants 38:34–36.

decrepit two-story house

An old building on the Copley farm in Thompson, Ohio, where the Colesville Saints temporarily settled

D&C 54:3. How Might One Escape His Enemies, No Matter Who They Are?

The Colesville Branch was warned of enemies from whom they were to escape. Although their enemies were not specifically identified, the method of escape was clearly defined. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death.” (Teachings, p. 297.)

On another occasion the Prophet said: “Salvation is for a man to be saved from all his enemies; for until a man can triumph over death, he is not saved. A knowledge of the priesthood alone will do this.” (Teachings, p. 305.)

D&C 54:4. What Covenants Were Broken?

It is apparent that Leman Copley and Ezra Thayre had agreed to provide land for the Colesville Branch and then had gone back on their word.

D&C 54:7–9. “Take Your Journey” and “Seek Ye a Living Like unto Men”

After their failure to obtain land in Kirtland, the Colesville Saints were directed to leave Ohio and go to Missouri; but since they would arrive in Missouri before the Lord’s commandments concerning the law of consecration would be fully implemented, the Lord told them how to act until they could be properly included in the united order.

Section 55
W. W. Phelps Is Called and Chosen

Historical Background

William Wines Phelps was born at Hanover, Morris County, New Jersey, on 17 February 1792. He worked as editor of a newspaper called the Western Courier and later established anti-Masonic papers known as the Lake Light and the Ontario Phoenix, both in New York. He was nominated by his friends for the office of lieutenant governor of New York, and although he did not receive the nomination, he did gain much valuable experience.

On 26 March 1830 W. W. Phelps read an announcement that the Book of Mormon was about to come off the press. He later met Parley P. Pratt, who sold him a copy. After he read the Book of Mormon, he went to Kirtland, Ohio, where he met Joseph Smith. When Phelps inquired what the Lord desired of him, he was directed to be baptized and take his family to Missouri (see D&C 55, which was received shortly after W. W. Phelps and his family arrived in Kirtland in June 1831).

W. W. Phelps contributed great talent to the Church. He set up the first printing press for the Church in Missouri. He published the first Church newspaper, the Evening and Morning Star. He helped select, prepare, and publish the revelations in the Book of Commandments. And he wrote many hymns, including “The Spirit of God” and “Gently Raise the Sacred Strain.”

William W. Phelps

William W. Phelps, an early Church newspaper editor

Notes and Commentary

D&C 55:1. What Does Having An Eye Single to the Glory of God Mean?

“Through the natural eyes men see the light which guides them in their physical existence, through their spiritual eyes, the spiritual light which leads to eternal life. As long as the natural eyes are unimpaired, men can see and be guided by the light of day; and as long as the spiritual eyes are single to the glory of God—that is, as long as they are undimmed by sin and are focused solely on righteousness—men can view and understand the things of the Spirit. But if apostasy enters and the spiritual light turns to darkness, ‘how great is that darkness!’” (McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:240.)

D&C 55:4. “That Little Children Also May Receive Instruction”

W. W. Phelps commented on the assignment he received from the Lord: “As a people we are fast approaching a desired end, which may literally be called a beginning. Thus far, we cannot be reproached with being backward in instruction. By revelation, in 1831, I was appointed to ‘do the work of printing, and of selecting and writing books for schools in this church, that little children might receive instruction;’ and since then I have received a further sanction. We are preparing to go out from among the people, where we can serve God in righteousness; and the first thing is, to teach our children; for they are as the Israel of old. It is our children who will take the kingdom and bear it off to all the world. The first commandment with promise to Israel was, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land, which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ We will instruct our children in the paths of righteousness; and we want that instruction compiled in a book.” (Times and Seasons, 1 Nov. 1845, p. 1015.)

Section 56
The Lord Commands and the Lord Revokes

Historical Background

After the conference of 3 June 1831, the Lord gave a revelation to the Church (D&C 52) in which a number of brethren were called in pairs to go to Missouri, preaching the gospel as they traveled, and to hold another conference in that land. But when Ezra Thayre lost the spirit of his assignment because of problems at Thompson, Ohio, and was slow in making preparations to go on his mission, Thomas B. Marsh, his assigned companion, went to Joseph Smith seeking an answer to the dilemma. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received what is now known as section 56 (see History of the Church, 1:186).

Notes and Commentary

D&C 56:2. “Take Up His Cross and Follow Me”

See Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 23:6.

D&C 56:3–4. Under What Circumstances Does the Lord Revoke What He Has Commanded?

Elder James E. Talmage noted that “only the rebellious, those who will not obey the commandments of God are to be thus dealt with, are to have their blessings revoked; only these will forfeit the blessings to which they were entitled. In another revelation given shortly after that, Section 58, the Lord takes people to task because they were in the habit of saying—and he might well take some of us to task, for we still say it—that the Lord doesn’t keep his word, that he makes promises and fails to fulfil them.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1921, p. 113.)

The Lord further stated that those who are not in the Church, who hinder the Lord’s work, will bear that condemnation (see D&C 124:49–50).

D&C 56:6–8. A Change of Assignments

In these verses the Lord changed the assignments given in Doctrine and Covenants 52:22, 32. Selah J. Griffin, formerly assigned to Newel Knight, was assigned to Thomas B. Marsh. Newel Knight was called to go with the Colesville Saints to Missouri, and Ezra Thayre was released from his missionary calling.

D&C 56:8–9. How Does One Overcome Selfishness?

“Selfishness consists in caring unduly or supremely for oneself; it is one of the lusts of the flesh which must be overcome by those who gain salvation. A selfish person clings to his own comfort, advantage, or position at the expense of others. Men are commanded to repent of their pride and selfishness. (D. & C. 56:8.) In practice the way to do this is to serve in the Church and make generous financial contributions to sustain its programs.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 701.)

man giving bishop an envelope

Unselfish contributions sustain the temporal kingdom of God.

D&C 56:16. A Proper Attitude toward the Temporal Blessings of Life

The remainder of this revelation was directed to Ezra Thayre. Because of his selfishness, which was a cause of the Colesville Saints’ having to leave Thompson, Ohio, the Lord gave him, and all Saints, counsel on the proper use of temporal things. Doctrine and Covenants 56:16 delineates the responsibility of the rich. The Lord has instructed his prophets about how the poor are to be taken care of: such principles as tithing and fast offerings assist Latter-day Saints to take care of their responsibility to the poor. (See 1 Timothy 6:9–10, 17–19; Jacob 2:17–19; Mosiah 4:26–27.)

D&C 56:17–18. What Should Be the Attitude of the Poor?

President George Albert Smith warned against taking what belongs to others. After quoting Doctrine and Covenants 56:17 he said:

“That is the situation of many of our own brothers and sisters in America with all the blessings that we enjoy—better wages, better homes, better opportunities for education than have ever been known before. Yet we have today men who not only will not work themselves, but they also will not permit somebody else to be employed. They are not willing to earn their living by work, but they propose to take it from the rich man. . . .

“We must not fall into the bad habits of other people. We must not get into the frame of mind that we will take what the other man has. Refer back to the ten commandments, and you will find one short paragraph, ‘Thou shalt not covet.’ That is what is the matter with a good many people today. They are coveting what somebody else has, when as a matter of fact, many of them have been cared for and provided with means to live by those very ones from whom they would take away property.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1949, pp. 170, 172.)

Section 57
Independence: Center Place of Zion

Historical Background

After the close of the June 1831 conference, a revelation was given in which several missionaries were called to go to the land of Missouri, where the Lord would reveal the center place of Zion (see D&C 52).

Joseph Smith, who was called by revelation to travel with Sidney Rigdon, recorded the following after arriving in Missouri: “The meeting of our brethren [Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer Jr., Ziba Peterson, and Frederick G. Williams, all of whom had gone to Missouri as missionaries], who had long awaited our arrival, was a glorious one, and moistened with many tears. It seemed good and pleasant for brethren to meet together in unity. But our reflections were many, coming as we had from a highly cultivated state of society in the east, and standing now upon the confines or western limits of the United States, and looking into the vast wilderness of those that sat in darkness; how natural it was to observe the degradation, leanness of intellect, ferocity, and jealousy of a people that were nearly a century behind the times, and to feel for those who roamed about without the benefit of civilization, refinement, or religion; yea, and exclaim in the language of the Prophets: ‘When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?’ Our anxiety was soon relieved by receiving the following: [D&C 57].” (History of the Church, 1:189.)

Before this revelation was given, the members of the Church had read in the Book of Mormon about a New Jerusalem that would be located in America (see 3 Nephi 20:22; 21:23–24; Ether 13:1–12). Also, in September 1830 the Lord had explained that the holy city would be erected “on the borders by the Lamanites” (D&C 28:9). And finally, the Lord had promised he would reveal the exact location of the New Jerusalem (see D&C 42:62). It was therefore with great joy that Doctrine and Covenants 57 was received by the members of the Church.

aerial photo of Independence, Missouri

The temple lot in Independence, Missouri, which was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph Smith on 3 August 1831, and surrounding area. Portions of the temple lot are now owned by the Church and by two other faiths. (1) Latter-day Saint visitors’ center; (2) Independence Missouri Stake Center; (3) Missouri Independence Mission office; (4) site of 1833 Church printing office; (5) the spot where the Prophet stood to dedicate the temple lot, now owned by the Church of Christ (Temple Lot); (6) auditorium of the Community of Christ, formerly known as the Reorganized Church; (7) Community of Christ Temple, a house of public worship.

Notes and Commentary

D&C 57:4. What Is Meant by the Phrase, “the Line Running Directly between Jew and Gentile”?

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that this expression “has reference to the line separating the Lamanites from the settlers in Jackson County. At this time the United States Government had given to the Indians the lands west of the Missouri, only later to take them away again. The Lamanites, who are Israelites, were referred to as Jews, and the Gentiles were the people, many of whom were of the lawless element, living east of the river.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:206; see also the map in Notes and Commentary on D&C 28:9.)

The following references show that the Lamanites have Jewish ancestry: Omni 1:12–17; Mosiah 25:1–2; Helaman 8:21; 3 Nephi 2:14–16; 4 Nephi 1:17.

D&C 57:5. Everlasting Inheritance

See Doctrine and Covenants 38:17–20; 101:17–18.

D&C 57:9. Obtain a License

“Brother Gilbert is also instructed to obtain a license. This license was probably needed because of the laws of the time, in order that he might transport goods to the people by clerks or others employed in his service.” (Sperry, Compendium, p. 234.)

D&C 57:13. Why Was Oliver Cowdery Instructed to Assist William W. Phelps?

“In Sec. 55:4, Phelps is appointed to assist Cowdery; here Cowdery is mentioned as the assistant. There is no discrepancy in this. It only shows that God intended them to assist each other as fellow-laborers in the same service.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 330.)

D&C 57:14–15. Who Are the Families Who Are to Gather to Zion?

“The Bishop and the agent are here instructed to make preparations for the reception of the Colesville Saints who, in obedience to the divine command (Sec. 54:7, 8), were on the road to Zion” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 330).

The concept of establishing Zion is discussed in Enrichment B in the Appendix.

Section 58
The Land of Zion

Historical Background

The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the following explanation of the coming forth of this section:

“The first Sabbath after our arrival in Jackson county, Brother W. W. Phelps preached to a western audience over the boundary of the United States, wherein were present specimens of all the families of the earth; Shem, Ham and Japheth; several of the Lamanites or Indians—representative of Shem; quite a respectable number of negroes—descendants of Ham; and the balance was made up of citizens of the surrounding country, and fully represented themselves as pioneers of the West. At this meeting two were baptized, who had previously believed in the fulness of the Gospel.

“During this week the Colesville branch, referred to in the latter part of the last revelation [D&C 57:15], and Sidney Rigdon, Sidney Gilbert and wife and Elders Morley and Booth, arrived. I received the following: [D&C 58].” (History of the Church, 1:190–91).

Notes and Commentary

D&C 58:2–4. Why Does the Lord Allow Tribulations to Come upon His People?

Elder George Q. Cannon suggested that “the Saints should always remember that God sees not as man sees; that he does not willingly afflict his children, and that if he requires them to endure present privation and trial, it is that they may escape greater tribulations which would otherwise inevitably overtake them. If He deprives them of any present blessing, it is that he may bestow upon them greater and more glorious ones by and by.” (Millennial Star, 3 Oct. 1863, p. 634.)

Trials sometimes come to the Saints as a chastisement when they disregard the Lord’s counsel (see D&C 101:1–8). Even when the Saints are living righteously, trials may come upon them because of the unrighteousness of others. Tribulation provides the Saints with opportunities for spiritual growth and character development. Such needed attributes as humility, faith, empathy, patience, courage, gratitude, and a repentant heart come to individuals in the refiner’s fire of tribulation and persecution.

Trials give Saints the opportunity to prove themselves worthy of eternal blessings by showing their commitment to God and His kingdom, and their willingness to endure privation and forsake the things of the world. This in turn helps them develop the faith necessary to obtain eternal life. According to the Lectures on Faith, prepared under the direction of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for, from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things. It was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.” (6:7.)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained:

“The testing processes of mortality are for all men, saints and sinners alike. Sometimes the tests and trials of those who have received the gospel far exceed any imposed upon worldly people. Abraham was called upon to sacrifice his only son. Lehi and his family left their lands and wealth to live in a wilderness. Saints in all ages have been commanded to lay all that they have upon the altar, sometimes even their very lives.

“As to the individual trials and problems that befall any of us, all we need say is that in the wisdom of Him who knows all things, and who does all things well, all of us are given the particular and specific tests that we need in our personal situations. It is to us, His saints, that the Lord speaks when He says: ‘I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, that you may be found worthy.

“‘For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.’ (D&C 98:14–15.) . . .

“But sometimes the Lord’s people are hounded and persecuted. Sometimes He deliberately lets His faithful saints linger and suffer, in both body and spirit, to prove . . . that they may be found worthy of eternal life. If such be the lot of any of us, so be it.

“But come what may, anything that befalls us here in mortality is but for a small moment, and if we are true and faithful God will eventually exalt us on high. All our losses and sufferings will be made up to us in the resurrection.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1976, pp. 158–60; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, pp. 106, 108.)

President Brigham Young taught: “If the Saints could realize things as they are when they are called to pass through trials, and to suffer what they call sacrifices, they would acknowledge them to be the greatest blessings that could be bestowed upon them” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345).

D&C 58:3–7, 44. Were These Verses a Foreshadowing That the New Jerusalem Would Not Be Built in 1831?

Elder Orson F. Whitney wrote:

“At all events, what occurred must have been foreseen. Divine prescience [foreknowledge] extends to all things connected with the Lord’s work. When He commanded his people to build the New Jerusalem, he knew how much, or how little, they were capable of accomplishing in that direction—knew it just as well before as he did after. Such a thing as surprise or disappointment on his part is inconceivable. An all-wise, all-powerful Being who has created, peopled, redeemed and glorified ‘millions of earths like this,’ is not one to be astounded by anything that happens on our little planet.

“The All-knowing One knew in advance what those Zion-builders would do, or leave undone, and he shaped his plans accordingly. Evidently the time was not ripe for Zion’s redemption. The Saints were not ready to build the New Jerusalem. The proof is in the trespasses committed by them against the divine laws ordained for their government.” (Saturday Night Thoughts, p. 187.)

D&C 58:8–11. The Supper of the Lord

Two feast symbols from the Old Testament apply to the Supper of the Lord: the “feast of fat things,” and the “wine on the lees well refined.” Both are signs of richness, indicating that the feast mentioned here is of great importance (see also D&C 57:5–14; 65:3; Matthew 22:1–14; Revelation 19:7–9).

The “feast of fat things” refers to serving fat, full-flavored meat, available only to royalty and to the wealthy and made even richer by the addition of bone marrow (see Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, bk. 7: Isaiah, “Prophecies of Isaiah,” p. 439).

“Wine on the lees” is a substance described by the Hebrew word Shmareem, which signifies the jellies or preserves that were highly esteemed in the royal feasts of Eastern countries. These wines were prepared from lees (dregs) after the fermentation process was complete, and of grape skins, which preserved the wine and maintained remarkable color and flavor—truly a prized addition to the feast. Sometimes the rich juices of the lees were strained and served to accompany a feast; but strained or not, the preservative quality of the lees kept the juices from turning to a strong vinegar. (See Fallows, Bible Encyclopedia, “wine,” p. 1724; Gesenius, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, pp. 1036–37; Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary, bk. 7: Isaiah, “Prophecies of Isaiah,” p. 439; Encyclopedia Judaica, 6:1418.)

D&C 58:14–16. Of What Sins Had Edward Partridge Been Guilty As the First Bishop of the Church?

During the administration of Joseph F. Smith, the First Presidency of the Church issued a statement to clarify the role played by Edward Partridge. The following is an excerpt from that statement: “On occasion of the Prophet’s first visit to Independence, Missouri—Edward Partridge accompanied him—in the meetings and conferences held upon the land of Zion, Bishop Partridge several times strenuously opposed the measures of the Prophet, and was sharply reproved by the latter for his unbelief and hardness of heart. Indeed, the apostate, Ezra Booth, who was present, made the scene between the bishop and the Prophet one of the items that justified to him his apostasy. He refers to the circumstance in a letter, addressed to Bishop Partridge, which has been several times published in anti-‘Mormon’ literature. The Bishop, moreover, was reproved for his ‘blindness of heart and unbelief,’ and warned of the danger of falling from his high station, in a revelation given in August, 1831, while both he and the Prophet were still in Missouri: [D&C 58:14–15].” (In Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, 4:113.)

D&C 58:16–18. What Was the Mission Appointed to Edward Partridge?

Edward Partridge was not a ward bishop, as are bishops today, for there were no wards in the Church at that time. He was at first the bishop of the whole Church (see D&C 41:9), which was then quite small. A short time later Newel K. Whitney was called as bishop in Kirtland, and Edward Partridge remained as bishop in Missouri (see D&C 72).

The chief responsibility of Bishop Partridge was to administer the law of consecration: he received the consecrations of the Saints and gave them their stewardships (see D&C 41:9–11; 42:30–35, 71–73; 51; 57:7, 15). He was also responsible to judge the people according to the Lord’s law.

D&C 58:19–23. What Law Were the Saints to Keep in the Land of Zion?

The Saints had entered into a covenant to keep the laws of God, which included the gospel and the law of consecration (see D&C 42:30–42, 53–55; 59:1–24). They were also expected to “be subject to the powers that be” (D&C 58:22) and live according to the laws of the land. President Joseph Fielding Smith said:

“Very strict was the command to the Saints that the law of God should be kept on the land of Zion. ‘Let no man think he is ruler; but let God rule him that judgeth, according to the counsel of his own will, or, in other words, him that counseleth or sitteth upon the judgment seat.’ We, today, do not realize the rigidity of this command. The Saints were to assemble in the land which had been appointed from the beginning as the site of the holy city, New Jerusalem. This land and this site were dedicated. Those who assembled there were placed under covenant that they would keep the law of God, which commandment had been repeated to them many times. Sidney Rigdon, according to appointment, stood up and asked the assembly:

“‘Do you receive this land for the land of your inheritance, with thankful hearts, from the Lord?’

“‘Do you pledge yourselves to keep the law of God on this land, which you never have kept in your own lands?’

“‘Do you pledge yourselves to see that others of your brethren who shall come hither do keep the laws of God?’

“To these questions, they each answered, ‘We do,’ and then the land was dedicated for their gathering and inheritance. The Lord was very jealous of these commandments. This was not to be an empty pledge. Failure to observe the covenant was to bring tribulation. . . .

“Many of the members of the Church forgot the covenant they had made to ‘keep the law of God’ upon the land, which was mandatory, and this brought them into trouble. Persecutions came and eventually they were driven from their inheritances. The tribulation in part, but not all, which the Lord had promised they should suffer, came upon them because of their disobedience.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:212–13.)

D&C 58:26–29. The Lord Should Not Have to Command His People in All Things

Elder Ezra Taft Benson explained that “usually the Lord gives us the overall objectives to be accomplished and some guidelines to follow, but he expects us to work out most of the details and methods. The methods and procedures are usually developed through study and prayer and by living so that we can obtain and follow the promptings of the Spirit. Less spiritually advanced people, such as those in the days of Moses, had to be commanded in many things. Today those spiritually alert look at the objectives, check the guidelines laid down by the Lord and his prophets, and then prayerfully act—without having to be commanded ‘in all things.’ This attitude prepares men for godhood. . . .

“Sometimes the Lord hopefully waits on his children to act on their own, and when they do not, they lose the greater prize, and the Lord will either drop the entire matter and let them suffer the consequences or else he will have to spell it out in greater detail. Usually, I fear, the more he has to spell it out, the smaller is our reward.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1965, pp. 121–22.)

D&C 58:30–33. To Receive the Lord’s Blessings, People Must Obey His Commandments

“The Saints sometimes fail to do their duty and to keep the commandments of God. But they expect Him to make good to them the promises He has given to the faithful. If He does not, they complain. They neglect their prayers; they absent themselves from their meetings; they break the Word of Wisdom; they withhold their tithing; but when sickness comes and falls like a dark, terrifying shadow across their path, they expect immediate Divine interference in their behalf, through the administration of the Elders. If their expectations are not realized, they say, in a rebellious spirit, ‘His promises are not fulfilled.’ The reply of the Lord to that is, ‘Their reward lurketh beneath.’ They must look ‘beneath’ for their reward; they have no claim on heaven.” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 340.)

D&C 58:42–43. The Lord Promises Complete Forgiveness to Those Who Truly Repent

The Lord forgives those who truly repent of their sins. This blessing comes through the Atonement of Christ, who “suffered . . . for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent” (D&C 19:16). The Lord promises that He will no more remember the sins of those who repent (see Ezekiel 18:21–22).

Repentance, however, requires that we forsake and turn completely from our sins and confess them. Elder Spencer W. Kimball taught: “No one can ever be forgiven of any transgression until there is repentance, and one has not repented until he has bared his soul and admitted his intentions and weaknesses without excuses or rationalizations. He must admit to himself that he has grievously sinned. When he has confessed to himself without the slightest minimizing of the offense, or rationalizing its seriousness, or soft-pedaling its gravity, and admits it is as big as it really is, then he is ready to begin his repentance; and any other elements of repentance are of reduced value, until the conviction is established totally, and then repentance may mature and forgiveness may eventually come.” (Love Versus Lust, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 5 Jan. 1965], p. 10.)

The Lord’s forgiveness comes to those who truly repent. Elder Kimball also said that “those who heed the call, whether members or nonmembers of the Church, can be partakers of the miracle of forgiveness. God will wipe away from their eyes the tears of anguish, and remorse, and consternation, and fear, and guilt. Dry eyes will replace the wet ones, and smiles of satisfaction will replace the worried, anxious look.

“What relief! What comfort! What joy! Those laden with transgressions and sorrows and sin may be forgiven and cleansed and purified if they will return to their Lord, learn of him, and keep his commandments. And all of us needing to repent of day-to-day follies and weaknesses can likewise share in this miracle.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 367–68.)

Enrichment E in the Appendix contains a further discussion of the laws governing forgiveness.

D&C 58:44–48, 56. Why Were the Saints Commanded Not to All Gather Immediately to the Land of Zion?

The time had not yet come, and would not for “many years” (D&C 58:44), for all the Saints to receive their inheritances in Zion. A great deal of work, preparation, and patience is required before Zion can be fully established. The Church had neither the strength nor the means to purchase lands sufficient for all the Saints in Zion. So, before Zion could be established, a great deal of missionary work needed to be done to strengthen the Church. The Saints were told to “push the people together from the ends of the earth” (v. 45), that is, through missionary work they must gather together the dispersed members of the house of Israel preparatory to the establishment of Zion. The Church is still in that process.

Prophecies concerning this work are recorded in 1 Nephi 22:3–12 and 3 Nephi 21. Enrichment B contains a thorough exposition of the establishment of Zion.

D&C 58:50–51. A Commandment to Write a Description of Zion

The Lord commanded Sidney Rigdon to write a description of the land in Missouri and to listen to the Spirit in order to write the will of the Lord concerning the land. Then he was to write a letter to the Saints in general and include a subscription to raise money for the purchase of the land. Since photographs were unobtainable, Sidney Rigdon’s description could encourage the Saints in sending contributions for the purchase. (Later the Lord indicated that what Sidney Rigdon had written was unacceptable, probably in reference to this assignment; see D&C 63:55–56.)

The following description of Zion was included in the History of the Church, although whether it is a version of Sidney Rigdon’s description or whether it was written by someone else is not clear: “The country is unlike the timbered states of the East. As far as the eye can reach the beautiful rolling prairies lie spread out like a sea of meadows; and are decorated with a growth of flowers so gorgeous and grand as to exceed description; and nothing is more fruitful, or a richer stockholder in the blooming prairie than the honey bee. Only on the water courses is timber to be found. There in strips from one to three miles in width, and following faithfully the meanderings of the streams, it grows in luxuriant forests. The forests are a mixture of oak, hickory, black walnut, elm, ash, cherry, honey locust, mulberry, coffee bean, hackberry, boxelder, and bass wood; with the addition of cottonwood, butterwood, pecan, and soft and hard maple upon the bottoms. The shrubbery is beautiful, and consists in part of plums, grapes, crab apple, and persimmons.

“The soil is rich and fertile; from three to ten feet deep, and generally composed of a rich black mould, intermingled with clay and sand. It yields in abundance, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton and many other common agricultural products. Horses, cattle and hogs, though of an inferior breed, are tolerably plentiful and seem nearly to raise themselves by grazing in the vast prairie range in summer, and feeding upon the bottoms in winter. The wild game is less plentiful of course where man has commenced the cultivation of the soil, than in the wild prairies. Buffalo, elk, deer, bear, wolves, beaver and many smaller animals here roam at pleasure. Turkeys, geese, swans, ducks, yea a variety of the feathered tribe, are among the rich abundance that grace the delightful regions of this goodly land—the heritage of the children of God.

“The season is mild and delightful nearly three quarters of the year, and as the land of Zion, situated at about equal distances from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as from the Alleghany and Rocky mountains, in the thirty-ninth degree of north latitude, and between the sixteenth and seventeenth degrees of west longitude, it bids fair—when the curse is taken from the land—to become one of the most blessed places on the globe. The winters are milder than the Atlantic states of the same parallel of latitude, and the weather is more agreeable; so that were the virtues of the inhabitants only equal to the blessings of the Lord which He permits to crown the industry of those inhabitants, there would be a measure of the good things of life for the benefit of the Saints, full, pressed down, and running over, even an hundredfold.” (History of the Church, 1:197–98.)

D&C 58:52–53. Zion to Be Obtained by Purchase

The Lord commanded the Saints to purchase the area of land around Independence, Missouri, as the center place for Zion and to have clear and legal title to it. In this way any disputes over ownership could be settled by law, and violence could be avoided. Smith and Sjodahl pointed out why this commandment was given: “The Latter-day Saints are forbidden to make war in order to secure a gathering-place, and especially such a sacred place as that in which the greatest of all God’s temples is to be located. They are not forbidden to defend their lives, their homes, their loved ones, their liberty and country, against murderers and thieves, but they are forbidden to be the aggressors.” (Commentary, p. 379.)

Today the Church is still under the same responsibility to secure, by purchase, the land that will be the center place of Zion.

D&C 58:57. Dedication of the Land of Zion and the Temple Lot

Sidney Rigdon was commissioned by the Lord to dedicate the land of Zion, which included the temple lot, but Joseph Smith dedicated the actual spot for the temple. Joseph wrote:

“On the second day of August, I assisted the Colesville branch of the Church to lay the first log, for a house, as a foundation of Zion in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence. The log was carried and placed by twelve men, in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. At the same time, through prayer, the land of Zion was consecrated and dedicated by Elder Sidney Rigdon for the gathering of the Saints. It was a season of joy to those present, and afforded a glimpse of the future, which time will yet unfold to the satisfaction of the faithful.” (History of the Church, 1:196.)

“On the third day of August, I proceeded to dedicate the spot for the Temple, a little west of Independence, and there were also present Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and Joseph Coe” (History of the Church, 1:199).

Missionary Training Center

The Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah: “The sound must go forth . . . into all the world” (D&C 58:64).

D&C 58:64. Does the Lord Really Expect the Saints to Take the Gospel to All the World—to Every Creature?

Read Matthew 28:18–20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; Revelation 14:6–7; D&C 1:2, 4; 112:1, 4, 16–17. President Spencer W. Kimball, referring to these scriptures, said:

“It seems to me that the Lord chose his words when he said ‘every nation,’ ‘every land,’ ‘uttermost bounds of the earth,’ ‘every tongue,’ ‘every people,’ ‘every soul,’ ‘all the world,’ ‘many lands.’

“Surely there is significance in these words!

“Certainly his sheep were not limited to the thousands about him and with whom he rubbed shoulders each day. A universal family! A universal command! . . .

“. . . I feel that when we have done all in our power that the Lord will find a way to open doors. That is my faith. . . .

“With the Lord providing these miracles of communication [radio, television, cassette tape players, satellites and receiving stations, and so on], and with the increased efforts and devotion of our missionaries and all of us, and all others who are ‘sent,’ surely the divine injunction will come to pass: [D&C 58:64]. And we must find a way. . . .

“Using all the latest inventions and equipment and paraphernalia already developed and that which will follow, can you see that perhaps the day may come when the world will be converted and covered?

“If we do all we can . . . I am sure the Lord will bring more discoveries to our use. He will bring a change of heart into kings and magistrates and emperors, or he will divert rivers or open seas or find ways to touch hearts. He will open the gates and make possible the proselyting.” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, pp. 5, 10–11, 13.)

President Brigham Young likewise stated: “The kingdom will continue to increase, to grow, to spread and prosper more and more. Every time its enemies undertake to overthrow it, it will become more extensive and powerful; instead of decreasing, it will continue to increase, it will spread the more, become more wonderful and conspicuous to the nations, until it fills the whole earth.” (In Journal of Discourses, 1:203.)

As the Prophet Joseph Smith testified: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).

Section 59
“That Thou Mayest More Fully Keep Thyself Unspotted from the World”

Historical Background

Polly Knight, mother of Newel Knight, was a member of the Colesville Branch and was determined to go to the land of Zion with other members of the branch.

“Polly Knight’s health had been failing for some time, according to a statement made by her son, Newel. She was very ill during her journey from Kirtland to Missouri. ‘Yet,’ says her son, ‘she would not consent to stop traveling; her only, or her greatest desire was to set her feet upon the land of Zion, and to have her body interred in that land. I went on shore and bought lumber to make a coffin in case she should die before we arrived at our place of destination—so fast did she fail. But the Lord gave her the desire of her heart, and she lived to stand upon that land.’ (Scraps of Biography, p. 70.)” (In History of the Church, 1:199n.)

The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded: “On the 7th, I attended the funeral of Sister Polly Knight, the wife of Joseph Knight, Sen. This was the first death in the Church in this land, and I can say, a worthy member sleeps in Jesus till the resurrection.

“I also received the following: [D&C 59].” (History of the Church, 1:199.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 59:1–4. If Righteous, Those Who Live and Those Who Die Shall Both Inherit the Earth

Verses 1–2 seem to refer to Polly Knight, who had come up to the land with an eye single to God, although the blessings apply to all who come in a similar fashion.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “Today, with the earth subject to Satan’s rule, it is quite generally the selfish, self-centered, proud and haughty people of the earth who apparently inherit it. This is in harmony with the spirit of unrighteousness which has prevailed on the earth since the fall of man. When Christ comes to take possession of the earth and rule in his right as King of kings, he will keep his promise and the meek shall come into their own [see Matthew 5:5]. If they die, even then their inheritance shall stand, for the earth is to be the eternal abode of those who inherit the celestial kingdom. . . . This earth eventually . . . will be prepared for the righteous, or the meek, and it is their everlasting inheritance.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:215–16.)

D&C 59:5–6. The Two Great Commandments

President Joseph Fielding Smith noted that “so important is this commandment that the Latter-day Saints have had their attention called to it in a number of revelations. It is plain to be seen that on these commandments hang all the law and the prophets. If a person observes these commandments as they are given in verses 5 and 6 of this section (59) he will keep the full law of God. We cannot love our Heavenly Father, and worship him in the name of his Only Begotten Son, our Redeemer, with all our ‘heart, might, mind, and strength’ without keeping all other commandments. It naturally follows that we will love our neighbor as ourselves and have sympathy and love for all men who are the children of God. There would be no occasion for us to be constantly reminded that we should keep the Sabbath holy, or pay our honest tithes, or keep our bodies clean by observing the Word of Wisdom, or that we should not neglect our prayers, secret and in the family circle[. We] would observe all of these things and all else that we are instructed to do, IF we loved the Lord our God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. To the extent that members of the Church observe the laws of the Lord may their love for him be measured.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:216–17.)

D&C 59:6–13. The Ten Commandments Reiterated

The Lord in modern times has reiterated the basic laws that define man’s relationship to God and to his fellowman. A comparison of verses in Doctrine and Covenants 42 and 59 with the Ten Commandments in Exodus shows how the modern revelations clarify and amplify the earlier account. As can be seen, there is not a strict parallelism between each of the three sources, but additional insights are often given in sections 42 and 59 or both.

Exodus 20

D&C 42

D&C 59

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (v. 3).

 

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength” (v. 5).

“Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (v. 8).

“In the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him” (v. 5).

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image” (v. 4).

 

 

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain” (v. 7).

“If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments” (v. 29).*

 

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (v. 8).

 

“And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day” (v. 9).

“On this the Lord’s day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto the brethren, and before the Lord” (v. 12).

“On this day, thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart” (v. 13).

“Honour thy father and thy mother” (v. 12).

 

 

“Thou shalt not kill” (v. 13).

“Thou shalt not kill” (v. 18).*

“Thou shalt not . . . kill, nor do anything like unto it” (v. 6).

“Thou shalt not commit adultery” (v. 14).

“Thou shalt not commit adultery” (v. 24).*

“Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else” (v. 22).*

“He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit” (v. 23).*

“Thou shalt not . . . commit adultery, . . . nor do anything like unto it” (v. 6).

“Thou shalt not steal” (v. 15).

“Thou shalt not steal” (v. 20).*

“Thou shalt not take thy brother’s garment; thou shalt pay for that which thou receivest of thy brother” (v. 54).

“Thou shalt not steal, . . . nor do anything like unto it” (v. 6).

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (v. 16).

“Thou shalt not lie” (v. 21).*

“Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm” (v. 27).

“Thou shalt live together in love” (v. 45).

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (v. 6).

“Thou shalt not covet” (v. 17).

“He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit” (v. 23).*

 

 

“Thou shalt not be proud in thy heart” (v. 40).

“Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things” (v. 7).

“Thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times” (v. 11).

 

“Thou shalt not be idle” (v. 42).*

“Thou shalt stand in the place of thy stewardship” (v. 53).*

“If thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it into my storehouse” (v. 55).**

“Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received . . . to be my law” (v. 59).

“Thou shalt observe all these things, and great shall be thy reward” (v. 65).

“Ye shall observe the laws which ye have received and be faithful” (v. 66).

“God . . . hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion” (v. 20).

*After each of these commandments, an instruction is given to the Church for dealing with violations of these laws.

**These were specific commands, or laws, applying to the law of consecration.

statue of Adam and Eve kneeling at altar

Anciently, sacrifices were types of the suffering of Jesus Christ.

D&C 59:7–8. “A Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit”

Before the birth of Christ on earth, the Lord commanded that sacrifices of animals or the fruits of the field be offered. These sacrifices signified both His own sacrifice and the willingness of the individual making the sacrifice to be obedient to God. After His Resurrection, Jesus ended those sacrifices, and He commanded that the sacrifice thereafter be a broken heart and a contrite spirit (see 3 Nephi 9:15–22). Smith and Sjodahl explained the significance of the two phrases: “‘Contrite’ means ‘humble.’ ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise’ (Psalm 51:17); a broken spirit and a contrite heart are those in which the obstinacy of pride has been replaced by the humility of repentance, frequently brought about by sorrow and affliction.” (Commentary, pp. 305–6.)

D&C 59:9–10. Pay Thy Devotion unto the Most High

President John Taylor said: “To serve the Lord, is one of the great objects of our existence; and I appreciate as a great privilege the opportunity we enjoy of worshiping God on the Sabbath day. And when we do meet to worship God, I like to see us worship him with all our hearts. I think it altogether out of place on such occasions to hear people talk about secular things; these are times, above all others perhaps, when our feelings and affections should be drawn out towards God. If we sing praises to God, let us do it in the proper spirit; if we pray, let every soul be engaged in prayer, doing it with all our hearts, that through our union our spirits may be blended in one, that our prayers and our worship may be available with God, whose Spirit permeates all things, and is always present in the assemblies of good and faithful Saints.” (In Journal of Discourses, 22:226.)

D&C 59:11–12. What Is an Oblation?

Elder Bruce R. McConkie defined an oblation in the highest sense as “giving full devotion to the Lord, of offering him a broken heart and a contrite spirit. (D. & C. 59:8–12, 3 Ne. 9:19–20.) In a lesser and more temporal sense, an oblation is the offering of sacrifices, or of fast offering, or of any charitable contribution to the Church. (Ezek. 44:30.) Isaiah spoke of vain oblations meaning the ritualistic offering of sacrifices when the spirit and meaning of the ordinance and offering had been lost. (Isa. 1:13.) Ezekiel foretold that oblations would again be offered by Israel in the day of gathering. (Ezek. 20:33–44.)” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 541–42.)

D&C 59:13. “That Thy Fasting May Be Perfect”

President Joseph F. Smith said:

“Now, while the law requires the Saints in all the world to fast from ‘even to even’ and to abstain both from food and drink, it can easily be seen from the Scriptures, and especially from the words of Jesus, that it is more important to obtain the true spirit of love for God and man, ‘purity of heart and simplicity of intention,’ than it is to carry out the cold letter of the law. The Lord has instituted the fast on a reasonable and intelligent basis, and none of his works are vain or unwise. His law is perfect in this as in other things. Hence, those who can are required to comply thereto; it is a duty from which they cannot escape; but let it be remembered that the observance of the fast day by abstaining twenty-four hours from food and drink is not an absolute rule, it is no iron-clad law to us, but it is left with the people as a matter of conscience, to exercise wisdom and discretion. Many are subject to weakness, others are delicate in health, and others have nursing babies; of such it should not be required to fast. Neither should parents compel their little children to fast. I have known children to cry for something to eat on fast day. In such cases, going without food will do them no good. Instead, they dread the day to come, and in place of hailing it, dislike it; while the compulsion engenders a spirit of rebellion in them, rather than a love for the Lord and their fellows. Better teach them the principle, and let them observe it when they are old enough to choose intelligently, than to so compel them.

“But those should fast who can, and all classes among us should be taught to save the meals which they would eat, or their equivalent, for the poor. None are exempt from this; it is required of the Saints, old and young, in every part of the Church. It is no excuse that in some places there are no poor. In such cases the fast donation should be forwarded to the proper authorities for transmission to such stakes of Zion as may stand in need.” (Gospel Doctrine, pp. 243–44.)

D&C 59:13–14. How Can One’s Fasting Be Done with Singleness of Heart?

Fasting is sometimes thought of as going without food and drink. Here the Lord uses the terms joy and rejoicing to describe fasting. The preparation of food and fasting can go together. Smith and Sjodahl pointed out that “upon the Sabbath, even the food should be prepared ‘with singleness of heart’; that is to say, in simplicity. Our hearts, our desires, on that day should not be elaborate feasts, whereby some are prevented from having a Sabbath. A simple meal should suffice. To that extent every Sabbath should be a fast day, one bringing perfect joy.

“Our Lord, on one occasion, entered the house of Martha and Mary. Martha was cumbered about much serving, desirous of giving the Master many courses, and all in grand style. Mary was anxious to listen to the Master. To Martha’s rebuke of her younger sister, our Lord gently replied, ‘But one thing is needful.’ This might well be always remembered on our Lord’s day.” (Commentary, p. 352.)

D&C 59:15. “Not with Much Laughter, for This Is Sin”

For a discussion of light-mindedness and inappropriate laughter see Notes and Commentary on Doctrine and Covenants 88:69, 121.

D&C 59:16–20. Is There a Relationship between the Richness of the Earth and the Righteousness of the People?

One of the prominent themes of the Book of Mormon is that “as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper” (1 Nephi 2:20). “Prosper” implies more than an accumulation of physical wealth, but temporal prosperity is included in that blessing. Moses told the Israelites, “It shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that . . . he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine [cattle], and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee” (Deuteronomy 7:12–13). The Lord promises to bless the land as well as the people.

In section 59 the Lord again promises temporal blessings for spiritual obedience, including obedience to the law of the Sabbath. After a serious drought had ravaged the western United States, President Spencer W. Kimball asked if such a natural calamity might not be related to the obedience of the people, especially their observance of the Sabbath.

“The Lord uses the weather sometimes to discipline his people for the violation of his laws. He said to the children of Israel:

“‘If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them;

“‘Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

“‘And your threshing shall reach into the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time; and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.

“‘And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: . . . neither shall the sword go through your land.’ (Lev. 26:3–6.)

“With the great worry and suffering in the East and threats of drouth here in the West and elsewhere, we asked the people to join in a solemn prayer circle for moisture where needed. Quite immediately our prayers were answered, and we were grateful beyond expression. We are still in need and hope that the Lord may see fit to answer our continued prayers in this matter. . . .

“Perhaps the day has come when we should take stock of ourselves and see if we are worthy to ask or if we have been breaking the commandments, making ourselves unworthy of receiving the blessings. . . .

“But today numerous of the people of this land spend the Sabbath working, devoting the day to the beaches, to entertainment, to shows, to their weekly purchases. The Lord makes definite promises. He says:

“‘Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.’ (Lev. 26:4.)

“God does what he promises, and many of us continue to defile the Sabbath day.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1977, pp. 4–5; or Ensign, May 1977, p. 4–5.)

D&C 59:20. What Is Extortion?

“‘Extortion’ is the act of taking something by violence, by threats, by overcharge, etc., unlawfully. It is lawful to procure, by honest labor, the means whereby the good things of the Earth may be obtained, but it is not lawful to wrest anything from another by methods contrary to this great law: ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’” (Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary, p. 354.)

Marion G. Romney

Marion G. Romney taught, “The fruits of the gospel are the only objectives worthy of life’s full efforts” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 39).

D&C 59:23. The Fruits of the Gospel and the Price Required for Them

Elder Marion G. Romney explained:

“When earth life is over and things appear in their true perspective, we shall more clearly see and realize what the Lord and his prophets have repeatedly told us, that the fruits of the gospel are the only objectives worthy of life’s full efforts. Their possessor obtains true wealth—wealth in the Lord’s view of values. We need constantly to deepen our understandings and sharpen our realization of what the fruits of the gospel are.

“The Lord has defined them as ‘. . . peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.’ (D. & C. 59:23.) It is a bit difficult to define the ‘peace in this world’ referred to in the revelation. But we may be assured that it is not the ease, luxury, and freedom from struggle envisioned by the world’s utopian dreamers. Jesus told his apostles that it would be found by them even in their days of tribulation. ‘Peace I leave with you,’ he said, ‘my peace I give unto you.’ And then, by way of caution, it seems to me, he added, ‘. . . not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ (John 14:27.)

“The other fruit of the gospel named in the quotation—‘eternal life in the world to come’—must be a glorious thing, for the Lord has said that ‘he that hath eternal life is rich,’ (D. & C. 6:7) and that the ‘gift of eternal life is the greatest of all the gifts of God.’ (D. & C. 14:7.) He who obtains it will obtain an exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Father in heaven. . . .

“This gift of eternal life in the world to come may not, of course, be fully realized during earth life. An assurance that it will be obtained in the world to come may, however, be had in this world. As a matter of fact, the blessings of the celestial kingdom are promised only to those who have such an assurance. According to the vision, a successful candidate for these blessings must qualify on three counts: First, he must have ‘. . . received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name’ and been ‘. . . baptized after the manner of his burial’; second, he must have received ‘the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power’; and third, he must be ‘sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.’ (D. & C. 76:51–53.)

“The Prophet Joseph taught that one so sealed would have within himself an assurance born of the spirit, that he would obtain eternal life in the world to come. He urgently and repeatedly admonished the Saints of his day to obtain such an assurance by making their calling and election sure. It is this assurance within a person which brings to him the peace in this world which will sustain him in every tribulation. . . .

“These fruits of the gospel—assurance that we shall obtain eternal life, peace in this world sustained by such an assurance, and finally eternal life in the world to come—are within the reach of us all. . . .

“I conceive the blessings of the gospel to be of such inestimable worth that the price for them must be very exacting, and if I correctly understand what the Lord has said on the subject, it is. The price, however, is within the reach of us all, because it is not to be paid in money nor in any of this world’s goods but in righteous living. What is required is wholehearted devotion to the gospel and unreserved allegiance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . .

“A half-hearted performance is not enough. We cannot obtain these blessings and be like the rich young man who protested that he had kept the commandments from his youth up but who went away sorrowful when, in answer to the question, ‘What lack I yet?’ Jesus said unto him, ‘If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor . . . and come and follow me.’ (Matt. 19:21.) Evidently he could live everything but the welfare program.

“There can be no such reservation. We must be willing to sacrifice everything. Through self-discipline and devotion we must demonstrate to the Lord that we are willing to serve him under all circumstances. When we have done this, we shall receive an assurance that we shall have eternal life in the world to come. Then we shall have peace in this world. . . .

“Let us each day in solemn honesty confront ourselves with the rich man’s question, ‘What lack I yet?’ And thus, with utter frankness, discovering our own limitations, let us conquer them one by one until we obtain peace in this world through an assurance that we shall have eternal life in the world to come.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1949, pp. 39–45.)

Section 60
“Thou Shalt Not Idle Away Thy Time nor Bury Thy Talents”

Historical Background

On 3 June 1831 a conference was held at Kirtland, Ohio, at which twenty-eight missionaries were called to go to the land of Missouri, preaching the gospel as they journeyed (see D&C 52). Having completed their mission, “on the 8th day of August, 1831, at the close of the first conference held in Missouri, the elders inquired what they were to do. The Prophet inquired of the Lord and received a revelation giving them direction in relation to their return journey.” (Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220.)

Notes and Commentary

D&C 60:1–3. “They Will Not Open Their Mouths, but They Hide the Talent”

It was pleasing to the Lord that the elders had traveled to Missouri, and now they were to return speedily to Ohio. But the Lord was not pleased with some of them. President Joseph Fielding Smith noted: “They had been commanded to preach the Gospel along the way and bear testimony among the people, but some had failed to magnify this commandment because of their fear of man. It is true that not every man is a natural missionary, and there are those who shrink from the responsibility of raising their voices in proclamation of the Gospel, and yet this is an obligation that we owe to this fallen world. The elders in the very beginning had been commanded to serve the Lord with all their ‘heart, might, mind and strength,’ for the field is white and ready for the harvest. A penalty was to be inflicted upon those who failed and they were not to stand blameless at the last day. The preaching of the Gospel was to be a means to them by which they were not to perish, but bring salvation to their souls. There are many who have been sent forth who have had a fear of man, yet the Lord has promised to support them in their labors if they will trust in him.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:220–21.)

man in hard hat showing Book of Mormon to coworker

Those who have been warned are to warn their neighbors.

D&C 60:4. “I Shall Make Up My Jewels”

In all ages jewels have been highly esteemed by man. As these precious stones are the best and most valued that the earth can produce, so are those people who prepare themselves by obedience to the commandments, for they will be the jewels the Savior will claim when He comes in glory (see Isaiah 62:3; Zechariah 9:16; Malachi 3:17; D&C 101:3).

D&C 60:8, 13–14. “Preach My Gospel among the Congregations of the Wicked”

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that the Lord often “refers to the people scattered abroad as ‘congregations of the wicked.’ We have good reason to believe that wickedness prevailed among the congregations. The elders were to seek out from among the people the honest in heart and leave their warning testimony with all others, thus they would become clean from their blood.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:223.)

D&C 60:13. “Thou Shalt Not . . . Bury Thy Talent”

The full significance of this warning may be found in Matthew 25:14–30.

D&C 60:15–17. “Shake Off the Dust of Thy Feet”

The ordinance of washing the dust from one’s feet was practiced in New Testament times and was reinstituted in this dispensation (see D&C 88:139–40; John 11:2; 12:3; 13:5–14). The action of shaking or cleansing the dust from one’s feet is a testimony against those who refuse to accept the gospel (see D&C 24:15; 84:92; 99:4). Because of the serious nature of this act, Church leaders have directed that it be done only at the command of the Spirit. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “The cleansing of their feet, either by washing or wiping off the dust, would be recorded in heaven as a testimony against the wicked. This act, however, was not to be performed in the presence of the offenders, ‘lest thou provoke them, but in secret, and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment.’ The missionaries of the Church who faithfully perform their duty are under the obligation of leaving their testimony with all with whom they come in contact in their work. This testimony will stand as a witness against those who reject the message, at the judgment.” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:223; see also Notes and Commentary for D&C 24:15.)