D&C 121-123

  1. Introductory Comments.
  2. Sections 121-123.
    1. Historical Background.
      1. June 1836: The citizens of Clay County, Missouri drafted a resolutions addressed to the Mormons stating that the Saints must move out of the county in order to avert civil war.
        1. The 1st Presidency counseled the saints in Clay County to settle their affairs and move in peace.
      2. September 1836: The Saints began to settle on Shoal Creek in upper Ray County, Missouri.
        1. The city they established was named Far West.
        2. Alexander Doniphan was instrumental in getting Ray County divided into Ray, Caldwell, & Daviess Counties. Far West was located in Caldwell County and Adam-Ondi-Ahman in Daviess County.
      3. March 1838: Joseph, Brigham, and their families arrive in Far West.
      4. Spring 1838: Caldwell County had grown to more than 5000. 4,900 of which were Mormons.
        1. By the summer of 1838 the membership of the Church had swelled to about 12,000 in Missouri.
        2. Music from The Work & The Glory: Together, Life Is Grand!
      5. April 1838: Elders Kimball and Hyde return from their mission in England.
        1. In their eight months in England, 2000 members had been baptized.
        2. This mission became the foundation for the baptism of tens of thousands of members which eventually joined the Church in the British Isles.
        3. This influx of new Mormons came at a time when the Church was struggling in America.
      6. Significant excommunications during this period: Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, William E. McLellin, and Lyman E. Johnson.
        1. Charges brought against David Whitmer which led to his excommunication:
          1. Had not observed the Word of Wisdom.
          2. He had exhibited unchristian conduct by neglecting to attend church meetings.
          3. He had kept up correspondence with dissenters in Kirtland in which he had defamed the character of Joseph Smith.
          4. He had, while in office as president of the Missouri Saints, deliberately neglected his duties.
          5. After his release from that office, he had persisted in signing himself president of the Church.
      7. June 1838: Sidney Rigdon delivers the "Salt Sermon".
        1. In this speech, Sidney used as a text the verse, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith, shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men." (Matt. 5:13)
        2. Sidney applied this text to some of the dissenting brethren and seemed to be intimating that this literally applied to these brethren. Some of the dissenters made the most of this speech in prejudicing the non-Mormons in the surrounding counties.
      8. July 4, 1838: Independence Day in Far West.
        1. The corner stones for the temple were laid.
        2. There was a parade including a band.
        3. The Prophet wrote: "The day was spent in celebrating the `Declaration of Independence of the United States of America,' and also by the saints making a `Declaration of Independence' from all mobs and persecutions which have been inflicted upon them, time after time, until they could bear it no longer." (DHC 3:41)
        4. Sidney Rigdon was the key speaker of the day.
          1. Most of his speech was a good Independence Day speech on the free institutions of our government, religious freedom, and the establishment of the Church in this dispensation.
          2. He then spoke of those who attempted to infringe upon the rights of the Church.
            1. "But from this day and this hour we will suffer it no more. We take God and all the holy angels to witness, this day, that we warn all men, in the name of Jesus Christ to come on us no more for ever, for from this hour we will bear it no more; our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity; the man, or the set of men who attempt it do it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us, it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them until the last drop of their blood is spilled; or else they will have to exterminate us, for we will carry the seat of war to their; own houses and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.... We this day, then, proclaim ourselves free with a purpose and determination that never can be broken, No, never! No, never! No, never!" (CHC 1:441)
          3. This speech may not have had much effect, except that it appeared in print and was used by the dissenters and mobbers against the Church.
      9. August 6, 1838: Election day at Gallatin, Daviess County.
        1. The Mormons had been warned that there would be an attempt to keep them from voting in the election.
        2. The brethren living in Gallatin gave little heed to the warning and went to the polls unarmed.
        3. When the Mormons attempted to exercise their rights, a free-for-all broke out. It lasted for only two minutes. There were injuries, but no one was killed.
        4. The Missouri difficulties escalated from this event.
      10. As the spirit of mobocracy spread, the brethren in Far West organized into companies of tens and fifties for mutual protection.
        1. The Prophet encouraged the Saints to be unafraid and referred to a passage in the 18th chapter of Judges about the tribe of Dan, "If the enemy comes, the Danites will be after them, meaning the brethren in self-defense."
        2. One of those who heard Joseph speak of the Danites was one Sampson Avard. Brother Avard secreted organized some of the brethren into a companies for mutual defense and protection.
          1. He claimed to have the sanction of the First Presidency.
          2. He taught those who would follow him that they should lead their companies against the gentiles, to rob and plunder them, and waste them away. With the loot, the kingdom of God would be built.
          3. The majority of Avard's followers left him in disgust. And soon Avard was excommunicated.
          4. Avard then became a friend of the mob and charged the Prophet with being the instigator of the Danite band.
      11. October 1838: The Missouri mobbings begin anew.
        1. In a half-hour battle at DeWitt, 30 armed Mormons led by Colonel George Hinkle, scared of a mob of about 150. Reports of this battle found their way back to Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
        2. Battle of Crooked River.
          1. On October 25, Apostle David W. Patten led a Mormon militia against a mob at Crooked River.
          2. Mormon forces lost 3 lives and 7 were wounded. Among those killed was Elder Patten. The Missourians lost 1 man and 6 were wounded.
          3. Reports of the battle were exaggerated. All the Missourians in the northern part of Ray County abandoned their premises and fled south to Richmond for safety believing that a Mormon attack was imminent.
        3. At the direction of Governor Boggs a force of 2000 troops were dispatched to Richmond. The governor wrote: "The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good. Their outrages are beyond all description."
      12. October 30: Haun's Mill massacre.
        1. This settlement was attacked by a mob of 240 men. Mormon men and boys fled into the blacksmith shop and into the woods. The mob leader treacherously yelled, 'All who desire to save their lives and make peace, run into the blacksmith shop.' The mob then surrounded the blacksmith shop and fired between the logs. 19 men and boys were killed and another 15 wounded.
      13. October 31, 1838:
        1. George M. Hinckle (commander of the Mormon forces) met with General Samuel D. Lucas. Hinckle was shown a copy of the extermination order.
        2. Lucas promised to go easier than the order if: Hinckle agreed to the proposal and asked for a postponement until the following morning.
          1. Leaders turned themselves in to be tried & punished.
          2. They would take an appropriation of property as compensation by those who took up arms.
          3. The remaining Saints leave the state.
          4. All arms to be given up.
        3. Hinckle agreed to the proposal and asked for a postponement until the following morning.
        4. Hinkle informed Joseph that the militia officers desired an interview with him and other named brethren and that the difficulties might be settled. Joseph and the others went willingly to confer. Colonel Hinkle presented Joseph and the others he stated: "Here, general, are the prisoners I agreed to deliver to you."
      14. November 1, 1838: Brigadier General Doniphan was given orders by General Lucas: "Sir: You will take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square of Far West, and shoot them at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning."
        1. General Doniphan responded with the following reply: "It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty tomorrow morning, at 8 o'clock; and if you execute those men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God!"
      15. Consider Heber C. Kimball's description of these events:
        1. "November 1st, the mob, professing to be the regular militia of the state of Missouri, numbering about 7,000, surrounded Far West, we were all taken prisoners and then marched a short distance into a hollow where Col. Lucas had previously pointed his cannon, in full range, so that if we had not laid down our arms, he could easily sweep us into eternity, which was his design. We were then formed into a hollow square, and commanded by Col. Lucas to ground arms and deliver up our weapons of war, although they were our own private property. We were then marched back a short distance, on the public square in Far West, where we were again formed into a hollow square, near the house of Brother Beeman." (Life of Heber C. Kimball, p217)
        2. "The mob then commenced plundering the citizens of their bedding, clothing, money, wearing apparel, and everything of value they could lay their hands upon; and also attempting to violate the chastity of the women in sight of their husbands, pretending they were hunting for prisoners and firearms." (Ibid., p217)
        3. "The next day, 2nd, I was permitted to return to my house, but was told not to leave the city, as it was surrounded by a strong guard to prohibit anyone leaving the place; they were engaged in taking every man who seemed to have any influence, and putting them in chains to stand a trial. They were pointed out by the apostate allies of the mob." (Ibid., p219)
        4. "We were brought up at the point of the bayonet and compelled to sign a deed of trust, transferring all our property to defray the expenses of this war made on us by the State of Missouri. This was complied with, because we could not help ourselves. When we walked up to sign the deeds of trust to pay these assassins for murdering our brethren and sisters, and their children; ravishing some of our sisters to death; robbing us of our lands and possessions and all we had on earth, and other similar 'services,' they expected to see us cast down and sorrowful, but I testify as an eyewitness that the brethren rejoiced and praised the Lord, for His sake taking joyfully the despoiling of their goods. Judges and magistrates, Methodist, Presbyterian, Campbellite and other sectarian priests stood by and saw all this going on, exulting over us, and it seemed to make them more angry that we bore our misfortunes so cheerfully. Judge Cameron said, with an oath, 'See them laugh and kick up their heels. They are whipped, but not conquered'." (Ibid., p219)
        5. "The murders, house-burnings, robberies, rapes, drivings, whippings, imprisonments, and other sufferings and cruelties inflicted upon the people of God, under the illegal orders of Missouri's Executive, have only in part been laid before the world, and form a page in history unsurpassed and unparalleled in the history of religious persecution-that foulest of all crimes. This historic page alone can credit Lilburn W. Boggs and his minions with feeding the ministers of the proscribed religion on the flesh of their murdered brethren; the odium of which is fully shared by the ministers of different denominations who participated in these vile atrocities. If hell can furnish a parallel, where is it ? I have not the ability to write what I saw and felt and realized, but will leave it to eternity to reveal the scenes of those days. I can say before God, angels, heaven and earth, that I am innocent of violating any law of the state of Missouri, and my brethren are equally innocent and virtuous, true to their God and their country." (Ibid., p223)
      16. After a farce of a trial Joseph & Hyrum Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, Alexander McRae and Caleb Baldwin were locked up in Liberty jail for over four months (a squalid, poorly ventilated jail).
        1. It was here that Sections 121-123 were revealed.
        2. It was also during this time that 12,000 to 15,000 Saints began the move to Illinois under the direction of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball.
    2. Discussion of Sections 121-123.
      1. Music from The Work & The Glory: O God, Where Art Thou?
      2.  READ V1-6. The Prophet pleads with the Lord for relief.
      3.  READ V7-8. The Lord speaks peace to the Prophet.
      4.  READ 122:5-9. The Lord speaks about adversity.
      5.  READ 121:26-33. Great knowledge to be revealed in the last dispensation.
      6.  READ 121:36-37. Rights in the priesthood dependent upon righteousness.
      7.  READ 121:39. Authority leads to unrighteous dominion (politics, religious life, business, etc.).
      8. V41-46: A beautiful explanation of how priesthood power is maintained.
        1. V1: "And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this State;"
        2. V6: "That we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of government in all their dark and hellish hue, as the last effort with is enjoined on us by our Heavenly Father, before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call him forth from his hiding place; and also that the whole nation may be left without excuse before he can send forth the power of his mighty arm."
        3. V9: "Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husband and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand;"
        4. V10: "Which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy."
        5. V17: "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
  3. Next Week.
    1. Lesson 36: D&C 124.