From Historian to Dissident
Bruce N. Westergren, editor
A Paid Ministry
[p.27]About these days Joseph the Prophet and Sidney arrived at Kirtland to the joy and satisfaction of the Saints.1 The disciples had all things common, and were going to destruction very fast as to temporal things: for they considered from reading the scripture that what belonged to a brother belonged to any of the brethren, therefore they would take each others clothes and other property and use it without leave: which brought on confusion and disappointments. for they did not under stand the scripture.2 After Joseph lived here a few days the word of the Lord came saying3:
Hearken and hear O ye my people, saith the Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest blessings; ye that hear me; and ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heav[i]est of all cursings. Hearken O ye Elders of my church whom I have called, behold I give unto you a commandment, that you shall assemble yourselves together to agree upon my word, and by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may [p.28]know how to govern my church, and have all things right before me.
And I will be your Ruler when I come: and behold I come quickly; and ye shall see that my law is kept. He that receiveth my law and doeth it the same is my desciple; and he that saith he receiveth my law and doeth it not is not my desciple, and shall be cast out from among you, for it is not meet that the things which belong to the children of the kingdom should be given to them that are not worthy, or to dogs, or the pearl to be cast before Swine.
And again, it is meet that my servant Joseph Smith Jr. should have a house built, in which to live and translate. And again, it is meet that my Servant Sidney should live as seemeth him good, inasmuch as he keepeth my commandments. And again I have called my servant Edward Partridge, and give a commandment, that he should be appointed by the voice of the church, and ordained a bishop, unto the church, to leave his merchandise and to spend all his time in the labors of the church; to see to all things as it shall be appointed unto him, in my laws in the day that I shall give them. And this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like Nathaniel of old, in whom there is no guile. These words are given unto you, and they are pure before me, wherefore beware how you hold them, for they are to be answered upon your souls in the day of Judgment; even so: Amen.
Behold after this revelation was receiv[e]d the Elders were called together, and, united in mighty prayer, and were agreed as touching the reception of the Law4: therefore; Thus Saith the Lord:
your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Hearken, O ye E[l]ders of my church who have assembled themselves together, in my name, even Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Savior of the world; inasmuch as they [p.29]believe on my name and keep my commandments; again, I say unto you, hearken and hear and obey the law which I shall give unto you: for verily I say, as ye have assembled yourselves together, according to the commandment wherewith I commanded you, and are agreed as touching this one thing, and have asked the Father in my name, even so ye shall receive.
Behold, verily I say unto you, I give unto you this first commandment, that ye shall go forth in my name, every one of you, excepting my servant Joseph Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon. And I give unto them a commandment, that they shall go forth for a little season, and it shall be given by the power of the Spirit when they shall return, and ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the voice of a trump declaring my word like unto angels of God: and ye shall go forth baptizing with water, saying: Repent ye, repent ye, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.
And from this place ye shall go forth into the regions westward, and inasmuch as ye will find them that will believe you, ye shall build up my church in every region, until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you, from on high, when the City of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God. And again, I say unto you, that my Servant Edward Partridge shall stand in the office wherewith I have appointed him. And it shall come to pass, that if he transgress, another shall be planted in his stead; even so. Amen.
Again I say unto you, that it shall not be given to any one to go forth to preach my gospel, or to build up my church, except he be ordained by some one who has authority, and has been regularly ordained by the heads of the church.
And again, the Elders, Priests and Teachers of this church, [p.30]shall teach the principles of my gospel which are in the Bible and the book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel; and they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed, by the Spirit: and the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith, and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. And all this ye shall observe to do as I have commanded, concerning your teaching, until the fulness of my scripture are given.
And as you shall lift up your voices by the Comforter, ye shall speak and prophesy as seemeth me good; for behold the Comforter knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father and of the Son.
And now, behold I speak unto the church: Thou shalt not kill, and he that kills shall not have forgiveness, in this world nor in the world to come.
And again, I say, thou shalt not kill, but he that killeth shall die. Thou shalt not steal, and he that stealeth and will not repent, shall be cast out. Thou shalt not lie; he that lieth and will not repent, shall be cast out. Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her with all and none else; and he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit, and if he repents not, he shall be cast out. Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that has committeth adultery and repenteth not, shall be cast out; but he that committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it and doeth it no more, thou shalt for give; but if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out. Thou shalt not speak evil of thy neighbor, nor do him any harm. Thou knowest my laws concerning these things are given in my Scriptures: he that sinneth and repenteth not, shall be cast out.
[p.31]If thou lovest me, thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. And behold, thou wilt remember the poor, and consecrate of thy properties for their support, that which thou hast to impart unto them, with a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken and inasmuch as ye impart of your substance unto the poor, ye will do it unto me, and they shall be laid before the Bishop of my church, and his counsellors, two of the elders, or high priests such as he shall or has appointed and set apart for that purpose.
And it shall come to pass, that after they are laid before the Bishop of my church, and after that he has received these testimonies, concerning the consecration of the properties of my church, that they cannot be taken from the church, agreeable to my commandments, every man shall be made accountable unto me, a steward over his own property, or that which he has received by consecration, inasmuch as is sufficient for himself and family.
And again, if there <shall be> properties in the hands of the church, or any individuals of it, more than is necessary for their support, after this first consecration, which is a residue, to be consecrated unto the bishop, it shall be kept to administer to those who have not, from time to time, that every man who hath need may be amply supplied, and receive according to his wants. Therefore, the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and the needy, as shall be appointed by the high counsel of the church, and for the purpose of purchasing lands for the public benefit of the church, and building houses of worship, and building up the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed, that my covenant people may be gathered in one in the day when I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people.
[p.32]And it shall come to pass, that he that sinneth and repenteth not, shall be cast out of the church, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto the poor and the needy of my church, or in other words unto me. for inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these ye do it unto me—for it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets, shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles, unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.
And again thou shalt not be proud in thy heart, let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands, and let all things be done in cleanliness before me. Thou shalt not be idle, for he that is idle shall not eat the bread, or wear the garments of the laborer. And whomsoever among [them] that are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy. And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those who <that> have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass, that those that die in me, shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; and they that die not in me, woe unto them for their death is bitter.
And again, it shall come to pass, that he that has faith in me, to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed: he who has faith to see shall see: he who has faith to hear shall hear: the lame who have faith to leap shall leap: and they who have not faith to do these things, but believe in me, [p.33]have power to become my sons: and inasmuch as they break not my laws, thou shalt bear their infirmities.
Thou shalt stand in the place of thy stewardship: thou shalt not take thy brother’s garment; thou shalt pay for that which thou shalt receive of thy brother; and if thou obtainest more than that which would be for thy support, thou shalt give it in my storehouse, that all things may be done according to that which I have said.
Thou shalt ask, and my scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety; and it is expedient that thou shouldest hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full. And I give unto you a commandment, that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.
Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my Scriptures for a law, to be my law, to govern my church; and he that doeth according to these things, shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned, if he continue.
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation; knowledge upon knowledge; that thou mayest know the mysteries and peacable things; that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal. Thou shalt ask and it shall be revealed unto you in mine own due time, where the New Jerusalem shall be built.
And behold it shall come to pass, that my servants shall be sent forth to the east, and to the west, to the north and to the South; and even now, let him that goeth to the east, teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations. Behold thou shalt observe all these things, and [p.34]great shall be thy reward; for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them. Ye shall observe the laws which ye have received, and be faithful. And ye shall hereafter receive church covenants, such as shall be sufficient to establish you, both here and in the New Jerusalem. Therefore, he that lacketh wisdom let him ask of me, and I will give him liberally, and upbraid him not. Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for unto you the kingdom, or in other words, the keys of the church, have been given; even so. Amen.
The priests and teachers shall have their stewardships, even as the members, and the elders or high priests, who are appointed to assist the bishop as counsellors, in all things are to have their families supported out of their propertys which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned; or they are to receive a stewardship just remuneration for all their services; either a
stewardship, or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counsellors and bishop. And the bishop also, shall receive his support or a just remuneration for all his services in the Church.
2. For the Mormon experiment with communalism, see Backman, Heavens, 64-66; Max H. Parkin, “Conflict at Kirtland: A Study of the Nature and Causes of External and Internal Conflict of the Mormons in Ohio Between 1830 and 1838,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1966, 35-36. Christian [p.35]communal groups abounded during this time. Many groups, such as the Campbellites and the Shakers, felt it was necessary for the true saints of God to share their worldly possessions as outlined in Acts 4:32-37 to prepare for the Lord’s coming. (See Michael Barkun, Crucible of the Millennium: The Burned-Over District of New York in the 1840s [Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1986, 63-88; Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972], 491-509; Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District: The Social and Intellectual History of Enthusiastic Religion in Western New York, 1800-1850 [Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1950], 322-40.)
4. D&C 42:1-73; compare Wood, 2:89-95 (Book of Commandments, 44:1-54). The 1833 text contains three additional verses which are not included in Whitmer’s history. Whitmer apparently used a different source, either a clerk’s copy or a copy derived from the clerk’s text, and made an exception to his practice of following the Book of Commandments. This revelation was the first endorsement and modification of Rigdon’s pre-Mormon communal structure at two locations. Mormons in Kirtland organized the United Order, a joint-stock firm to which the Saints subscribed. Later, in Missouri, the “Law of Consecration” would be practiced on a truly communal basis, with all private property donated and deeded to the church through the bishop. The bishop in turn deeded back to donors what they needed to live. Those with surpluses gave them to the bishop who kept them in a storehouse for the poor (Cook, Revelations, 59-61, 131-32; and Joseph Smith and the Law of Consecration [Provo, UT: Grandin Book, 1985]; Backman, Heavens, 63-81; James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2d rev. ed. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1992], 84-88).