D&C/CHURCH HISTORY - LESSON 7
- Introductory Comments.
- Pioneer writings: Solomon Chamberlin.
- "April 2, 1847--this day the Pioneers began to leave the Council
Bluffs or Winter Quarters for the valley of the lake to make the road and
hunt a place for the saints. I, being one of them and was unwell when I
started, I suffered much of cold and hunger. When we got to Green River,
I was taken sick with the mountain fever, the second time, and got a little
better, and was taken down with the cholera, or cholera morbus, and was
brought to the point of death, and for 6 days and nights I took nothing
into my stomach but cold water, and that distressed me much. The road was
new and rough, and we continued to travel, and it seemed I must die, and
I longed for death, my fare was coarse, and scant. When we got to the valley
many of us were out of provision, July 24th here we stayed about one month.
August 26 we started for Council Bluffs, for my outfit to go back with,
I had but 2 quarts of parch corn and 3 quarts of coarse cornmeal. I was
sick all the way back, and suffered everything but death. Many times I
had nothing to eat, and sometimes I had a little poor buffalo bull meat.
We returned back to the Bluffs about the last of October, and found my
family well." (Writings of Early Latter-day Saints ChapSolomon
Chamberlain Auto, BYU pp14-16)
- Section 17.
- Historical Background.
- As you recall, after some miraculous happenings on the Whitmer farm,
David Whitmer came to Harmony with his wagon to take Joseph & Oliver
to Fayette where they could continue the translation without the threatening
situation that had developed in Harmony.
- In Fayette, the translation continued to its conclusion without interruption.
- On June 11, 1829, Joseph obtained from R.R. Lansing, clerk of the northern
district of New York, the copyright for the Book of Mormon.
- This was done two weeks prior to the completion of the translation.
- Only the title page of the book was required by law to receive the
copyright, therefore it was not necessary for the translation to be complete.
- Under the laws at that time, copyrights were only granted to authors
- This explains why the title page of the Palmyra edition of the Book
of Mormon reads, "By Joseph Smith, Junior, Author and Proprietor,"
instead of "translated by Joseph Smith, Junior," as appeared
in later editions.
- While translating in June, Joseph & Oliver discovered the Moroni's
abridgment of Ether's record the following statement by Moroni:
- Ether 5:2-4: "And behold, ye may be privileged that ye may
show the plates unto those who shall assist to bring forth this work; "And
unto three shall they be shown by the power of God; wherefore they shall
know of a surety that these things are true. "And in the mouth of
three witnesses shall these things be established; and the testimony of
three, and this work, in the which shall be shown forth the power of God
and also his word, of which the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost
bear record--and all this shall stand as a testimony against the world
at the last day."
- About this same time Martin Harris arrived from Palmyra, desirous to
learn about the progress of the translation.
- Oliver informed both David and Martin that there were to be three witnesses
to the plates. The three then asked Joseph to implore the Lord for the
privilege of becoming the special witnesses.
- The Prophet wrote: "...and finally they became so very solicitios,
and urged me so much to inquire that at length I complied; and through
the Urim and Thummim, I obtained of the Lord for them the following: [Section
17]". (DHC 1:53)
- Section 17.
- V1: The Lord grants the three the privilege of seeing the following
if they rely upon the word of the Lord with full purpose of heart:
- The plates.
- The breastplate.
- The Urim & Thummim.
- The sword of Laban.
- The directors given to Lehi while in the wilderness.
- V2: "And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of
them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old."
- WHAT A TEST! The Lord said that these men could behold the plates,
but it depended on their faith.
- FAITH was the key that would allow the three to view the plates.
- HOW IS OUR FAITH? DO WE HAVE FAITH IN THE WORDS OF THE PROPHETS?
- QUESTION: Are we reading the Book of Mormon daily as President Benson
has asked us? Have his words been revoked since he has passed away?
- Are we any different than the Three Witnesses? How can we obtain the
blessings of such if we do not do as commanded?
- Among the blessings for reading the Book of Mormon:
- President Benson has quoted President Marion G. Romney's great words:
"I feel certain that if, in our homes, parents will read from the
Book of Mormon prayerfully and regularly, both by themselves and with their
children, the spirit of that great book will come to permeate our homes
and all who dwell therein. The spirit of reverence will increase, mutual
respect and consideration for each other will grow. The spirit of contention
will depart. Parents will counsel their children in greater love and wisdom.
Children will be more responsive and submissive to the counsel of their
parents. Righteousness will increase. Faith, hope, and charity...will abound
in our homes and lives, bringing in their wake peace, joy, and happiness."
(CR, Apr. 1980)
- IS THIS A GREAT PROMISE OR WHAT?
- V3: "And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen
them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;"
- If the three are obedient to the command of the Lord in V3 he then
makes the following promise in V8:
- READ 17:8: "And if you do these last commandments of mine,
which I have given you, the gates of hell shall not prevail against you;
for my grace is sufficient for you, and you shall be lifted up at the last
- IF WE ARE OBEDIENT TO THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD WE HAVE THE SAME
- The Three Witnesses view the plates.
- The Prophet said that a few days after Section 17 had been given the
four of them (Joseph, Oliver, David, & Martin) went into the woods
near the Whitmer home and began to pray.
- Joseph prayed first, then each of the three prayed in succession. After
each took a 2nd turn and no vision had been granted the Prophet wrote:
"Upon this , our second failure, Martin Harris proposed that he
should withdraw himself from us, believing, as he expressed himself, that
his presence was the cause of our not obtaining what we wished for. He
accordingly withdrew from us, and we knelt down again, and had not been
many minutes engaged in prayer, when presently we beheld a light above
us in the air, of exceeding brightness; and behold, an angel stood before
us. In his hands he held the plates which we had been praying for these
to have a view of. He turned over the leaves one by one, so that we could
see them, and discern the engravings theron distinctly. He then addressed
himself to David Whitmer, and said, 'David, blessed is the Lord, and he
that keeps His commandments;' when, immediately afterwards, we heard a
voice from out of the bright light above us, saying, 'These plates have
been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the
power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and
I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear'." (DHC
- The Prophet says that he now left Oliver and David and went in pursuit
of Martin Harris.
- At a "considerable" distance he found Martin "fervently
engaged in prayer".
- Joseph joined Martin in prayer and eventually the vision was opened
to Martin. Martin cried out: "Tis enough; mine eyes have beheld;
mine eyes have held."
- He jumped up and shouted, "Hosanna" blessing God and
"otherwise rejoiced exceedingly".
- The Prophet's mother wrote regarding the occasion: "When they
returned to the house it was between three and four o'clock p.m. Mrs. Whitmer,
Mr. Smith and myself, were sitting in a bedroom at the time. On coming
in, Joseph threw himself down beside me, and exclaimed, 'Father, mother,
you do not know how happy I am: the Lord has now caused the plates to be
shown to three more besides myself. They have seen an angel, who has testified
to them, and they will have to bear witness to the truth of what I have
said, for now they know for themselves, that I do not go about to deceive
the people, and I feel as if I was relieved of a burden which was almost
too heavy for me to bear, and it rejoices my soul, that I am not any longer
to be entirely alone in the world.' Upon this, Martin Harris came in: he
seemed almost overcome with joy, and testified boldly to what he had both
seen and heard. And so did David and Oliver, adding that no tongue could
express the joy of their hearts, and the greatness of the things which
they had both seen and heard." (HJS, pp. 152-153)
- The Three Witnesses drafted their testimony and that testimony has
been placed in every Book of Mormon.
- The Three Witnesses and their uncompromised testimonies.
- If time, review The Three Witnesses - A Review.
- The Eight Witnesses.
- A short time after the vision of the three witnesses, Joseph, along
with Christian, Jacob, Peter, and John Whitmer, and Hyrum Page, visited
the Smiths in Manchester.
- The Prophet invited the above individuals, along with his father, and
brothers Hyrum and Samuel to retire to the solitude of the woods. There
Joseph took the plates from the cloth container and laid them before the
eight men. There were no heavenly manifestations. Each of these men had
a chance to handle the plates, lift them, and examine the engravings.
- These eight also record their testimony. None of these eight, along
with the three, ever denied their testimony.
- THE FACT THAT THERE WERE 12 WITNESSES TO THE BOOK THAT NEVER DENIED
THEIR TESTIMONY IS POWERFUL PROOF TO THE VALIDITY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON.
- Section 18.
- Historical Background.
- This revelation was given at the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette,
NY in June of 1829. It was given to Joseph, Oliver, and David as they sought
more knowledge regarding the formation of the Lord's Church.
- READ 18:3-5.
- In V4 the Lord tells Oliver that scriptures contain "all things
written concerning the foundation of my church, my gospel, and my rock."
- DO WE SOMETIMES GO BEYOND THE FOUNDATION OF THE SCRIPTURES & WORDS
OF THE PROPHETS TO BUILD OUR SPIRITUAL FOUNDATION?
- I think we could reword v5 to read for us "Wherefore, if you
shall build up your life, upon the foundation of my gospel and my rock,
the gates of hell shall not prevail against you."
- READ 18:10-14.
- HOW GREAT IS THE WORTH OF SOULS TO THE LORD?
- He gave His life to that men might repent and return to Him.
- I suppose the question for us is "How great is the worth of souls
- WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY?
- To cry repentance.
- WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
- I think that we first cry repentance to ourselves.
- Elder Rudger Clawson: "And how are we to determine the value
of souls? This matter has been determined for us also by revelation. The
souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that He gave to the world
His Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of His blood He might draw
all men unto Him. That is why the great Prophet of this dispensation, Joseph
Smith, and these others, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and
the rest, were called to bring souls unto Christ. And if one of these men
should labor all his days, and bring save it be but one soul unto Christ,
and that one should be his wife, what great joy he would have with his
wife in heaven. Then if he should labor all his days and bring unto Christ
the souls of his wife and his children, and none else perchance, how great
would be his joy in heaven with his wife and children." (CR, Apr.
- V20: "Contend against no church, save it be the church of the
- Our aim is to call people to repentance and preach gospel truths, not
to contend or debate.
- D&C Commentary says this regarding the Church of the devil: "The
church of the adversary may be known by its fundamental principle of government.
In the beginning he declared himself in favor of salvation by compulsion,
and although he was cast out of heaven for refusing to submit to the divine
Council, he has continued his agitation for that plan among the children
of men ever since. His church consists of those who adopt his plan and
seek to destroy the agency of man by brute force. In the Church of the
Lamb of God the 'law of liberty,' which is the law of 'common consent,'
prevails. The church of the adversary may also be known by contention and
strife, by false doctrines, and by all manner of iniquity. A minister of
the Lord makes war upon the domain of the adversary by the sword of the
Spirit; not by persecution." (P.86)
- Elder Bruce R. McConkie: "The titles church of the devil and
great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations
of whatever name or nature -- whether political, philosophical, educational,
economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious -- which are designed
to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus
from salvation in the kingdom of God." (Mormon Doctrine, pp137-138)
- V20 says to contend against no church except that of the devil.
- HOW DO WE CONTEND WITH THE CHURCH OF THE DEVIL?
- A key is found in v21 which reads: "Take upon you the name
of Christ, and speak the truth in soberness."
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "All who go forth to teach should do
so in wisdom and not contend with the churches or engage in profitless
debates, but teach in the spirit of kindness and try to persuade people
to receive the truth." (CHMR 1:38)
- Joseph Smith: "…the Elders would go forth, and each must stand
for himself…to go in all meekness, in sobriety, and preach Jesus Christ
and Him crucified; not to contend with others on account of their faith,
or systems of religion, but pursue a steady course. This I delivered by
way of commandment; and all who observe it not, will pull down persecution
upon their heads, while those who do, shall always be filled with the Holy
Ghost; this I pronounced as a prophecy, and sealed with hosanna and amen."
- In V37, David and Oliver are commanded to search out the Twelve apostles.
- V38 provides the criteria: "by their desires and by their works".
- The Twelve were chosen by the 3 Witnesses in February 1835.
- Section 19.
- Historical Background: Revelation given through the Prophet in March
1830 to Martin Harris. Joseph Smith said nothing concerning the circumstances
surrounding this revelation.
- Discussion of Section 19.
- READ V1-3. The Lord describes his mission.
- READ V4-5. Repent or suffer. Rather strong language..
- WHAT IS GOD'S PUNISHMENT? See V11,12,15
- READ V16-18. The Lord suffered to pay the price for those who repent.
- WHAT DOES THE LORD MEAN WHEN HE SAYS THAT IF THEY DO NOT REPENT THEY
"MUST SUFFER EVEN AS I:"?
- Joseph Fielding Smith: "The punishment of physical pain coming
from the nails driven in [Jesus's hands] and feet was not the greatest
of his suffering, excruciating as that surely was. The greater suffering
was the spiritual and mental anguish coming from the load of our transgressions
which he carried. If we understood the extent of that suffering and his
suffering on the cross, surely none of us would wilfully be guilty of sin.
We would not give way to the temptations, the gratification of unholy appetites,
and desires and Satan could find no place in our hearts." (The
Restoration of All Things, p. 199)
- Those who do not repent must suffer from the same spiritual and mental
anguish that the Lord suffered for the sins of the world.
- They will be suffering the burden of only their own sins, not the sins
of the world, as did the Savior. But they must suffer in the same way.
- The Lord then gives Martin a number of commandments:
- V20 - Repent & confess sins.
- V21 - Preach nothing but repentance.
- V23 - Learn of the Lord & listen to his words.
- V25 - Covet not your neighbor's wife. Seek not thy neighbor's life.
- V26 - Covet not your own property, but impart it freely to the printing
of the Book of Mormon.
- V28 - Pray vocally & in your heart, before the world & in secret.
- V31 - Of tenets thou shalt not talk, but declare faith, repentance,
baptism, & the Holy Ghost.
- V33 - "And misery thou shalt receive if thou wilt slight these
- Next Week.
- Lesson 8: Read Doctrine and Covenants 20-22.