Sunday, February 22, 2015
Below I have copied and pasted a transcription from the Joseph Smith Papers publication of the LDS Church Historian Press. The letter is written in September, 1833, while Joseph was working on a series of lectures which would eventually become scripture. They would not be published until 1835 as Lectures on Faith. But the thinking of Joseph in September 1833 shown in this letter to his uncle show how the analysis of the later published Lectures on Faith came from the mind of Joseph Smith. This version is taken from the website, but a printed version appears in JS Papers, Documents Vol. 3, pp. 303-308.
It is with feelings of deep interest for the wellfare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works on that great day to which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me thatmen will be held accountable for the things which they have and not for the things they have not or that all the light and intell igence communicated to them from their benifficen [beneficent] creator wh ether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and improve upon that and that only which is given for man is not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds [p. 228]
out of the mouth of God
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to unders
Country upon the word spoken to Noah but for himself
he obtain ed promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in
that perf ection that he was called the friend of God Isaac the
promi sed seed was not required to rest his hope upon the
promises made to his father Abraham but was priviledged with the
assu rance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven by
the direct voice of the Lord to him If one man can live upon the
revelat ions given to another might not I with propriety ask
why the n ecessity then of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did
as is record ed in the 26 chapter of Genesis for the Lord there
repeats or rath er promises again to perform the oath which he had
previously sworn unto Abraham and why this repet[it]ion to Isaac
Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham. Was not Isaac Abraham's son And could he not place
implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man
of God.tand by anything
heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his
creatures when saught unto in a proper manner why should it be
thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak
again in these last days for their salvation Perhaps you may be surprized at this assertion that I should
say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days since
we have already in our possesion a vast volume of
his word which he has previously given But you will admit
that the word spoken to Noah was not suff icent for Abraham
or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his
nativity and seek an Inheritance in a strange
Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days consequently the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different as he was different from men in this age I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed but greatly bless ed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the [p. 229]
man or all the difference between him and men in this age is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.
The same might be said on the subject of Jacobs history Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same prom ise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hun dred years and after that they should come out with great substance Why did they not rely upon this promise and when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred [years] come out without waiting for further revelation but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out.
Paul said to his Hebrew brethren that God b[e]ing more abundantly willing to show unto the heirs of his promises the immu tability of his council [“]confirmed it by an oath.” He also exhorts them who throug[h] faith and patience inherit the pro mises.
[“]Notwithstanding we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us which hope we have as an an chor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that within the vail.” Yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on untill they as well as those who inherited the promises might have the assurance of their salvat ion confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who could not lie for that seemed to be the example an ciently and Paul holds it out to his brethren as an object atta inable in his day and why not[?] I admit that by reading [p. 230]
the scriptures of truth saints in the days of Paul could learn beyond the power of contradiction that Abraham Isaac and Jacob had the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the Lord but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation but they could by walking in the footsteps <and> continuing in the faith of their fathers obtain for themselves an oath for confirmation that they were meet to be partake[r]s of the inheri tance with the saints in light.
If the saints in the days of the were priviledged to take the saints for example and lay hold of the same promises and attain to the same exhalted priviledges of knowing that their names were writen in the Lambs book of life and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the most high will not the same faithfulness the same pur ity of heart and the same faith bring the same assurance of eternal life and that in the same manner to the children of men now in this age of the world[?]
I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles
I may [believe] that Noah was a
perfect man in his generation & also walked
with God.> I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed
with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal
of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of
the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels
and heard the word of his Maker. that he wrestled with the
angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing I may believe
that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire
with fiery horses I may believe that the [p. 231]and saints in
ancient days were saved in the Kingdom of God. Neither do I
doubt but that they held converse and com munion with them
while in the flesh as Paul said to the cori nthian brethren
that the Lord Jesus showed himself to above 500 saints at one time
after his resuretion [resurrection]. Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see
him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch
wa lked with God <and by faith was translated.
saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face aftof the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries, as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner they did or is he a respecter of persons?er his resurection I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God the Heaven ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the
I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I and more pleased to have you embrace the . I remain.may say with propriety at the begining; we would be pleased to see you in
Yours affectionatelyJr [p. 232]
Saturday, February 21, 2015
A quorum of twelve apostles did not exist in Mormonism until February 1835. Even though no quorum existed, the term “apostles” was used and many individuals were identified as “apostles.” The term meant someone sent with a message from God. The term was used to identify all the missionaries sent to preach the Book of Mormon and restoration.
The revelations given through Joseph Smith specifically identified the following men as “apostles” in the following sections and dates:
Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer, D&C 18:9 (June 1829)
Joseph Smith, D&C 20:2 and Oliver Cowdery, D&C 20:3 (April 1830)
Joseph Smith, D&C 21:1 and Oliver Cowdery 21:10 (April 1830)
Sidney Rigdon, Parley Pratt and Leman Copley, D&C 49:1, 11 (March 1831)—sending them forth “like unto mine apostle of old, whose name was Peter”
A series of revelations likewise referred to “apostles” and included the following admonitions, instructions, and commandments to the following audiences:
1. November 1831 - D&C 1:14: “the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.”
This did not, indeed could not, refer to a non-existent quorum of the twelve. At that time, it referred to any of the “disciples” he sent out as missionaries in the early church as explained in the same revelation, D&C 1:4-9.
2. March 1830 - D&C 19:8: refers to giving information to Martin Harris because “it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.”
Meaning that Martin Harris was entitled to have a mystery revealed to him.
3. The language in D&C 27:12 is not part of the original revelation given in August 1830. It was added apparently by Sidney Rigdon sometime between 1834 and 1835.
4. December 1830 - D&C 35:6: informs Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon that they could then give the gift of the Holy Ghost “by the laying on of the hands, even as the apostles of old.”
This is consistent with everywhere else in scripture which associates “laying on hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” with the status of “apostle.” See, e.g., D&C 20:38, 43; 3 Ne. 18:36-37; Moroni 2:2-3.
5. September 1831 - D&C 64:39: “they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.”
Given to the elders of the church, many of whom were calling themselves “apostles” as is mentioned two months later in the November 1831 revelation (D&C 1:14, discussed first above). All the missionaries called themselves “apostles.” The revelation meant that the unworthy who were sent as missionaries will be exposed to be unworthy.
6. September 1832 - D&C 84:63: “you are mine apostles”
Given to the missionaries who were now returning, having been sent out the prior year. All the missionaries were identifying themselves as “apostles” and the Lord was acknowledging and confirming this was true.
7. June 1833 - D&C 95:4: “For the preparation wherewith I design to prepare mine apostles to prune my vineyard for the last time,”
Referring to the Kirtland Temple the Lord wanted built (and they had delayed commencing). He said it was necessary to prepare all these “apostles” who were serving missions.
8. February 1834 - D&C 102—minutes of a meeting written by Oliver Cowdery which identifies the “traveling high council composed of the twelve apostles.” This council would not come into existence for another year.
9. March 1835 - D&C 107:23: The twelve apostles are identified as “twelve traveling councilors”
These particular “apostles” were a traveling council with authority equal to the many other “apostles” in the church. The apostles in the first presidency, and in the seventy, and in the other standing high councils are all equal in authority to these traveling high council apostles.
In 1835, the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, were asked by Joseph Smith to choose the first twelve members of the newly announced quorum of the twelve. The witnesses made their choices at a meeting on February 14, 1835. The three witnesses were also the ones who ordained the twelve chosen men as apostles between February and April 1835. Ordination was accompanied by a charge given by Oliver Cowdery that explained their ordination was not complete until they qualified. In part it included:
“It is necessary that you receive a testimony from heaven to yourselves; so that you can bear testimony to the truth of the Book of Mormon, and that you have seen the face of God. That is more than the testimony of an angel. When the proper time arrives, you shall be able to bear this testimony to the world. When you bear testimony that you have seen God, this testimony God will never suffer to fall, but will bear you out; although many will not give heed, yet others will. You will therefore see the necessity of getting this testimony from heaven. Never cease striving until you have seen God face to face. Strengthen your faith; cast off your doubts, your sins, and all your unbelief; and nothing can prevent you from coming to God. Your ordination is not full and complete till God has laid his hand upon you. We require as much to qualify us as did those who have gone before us; God is the same. If the Savior in former days laid his hands upon his disciples, why not in latter days? . . . The time is coming when you will be perfectly familiar with the things of God. . . . You have our best wishes, you have our most fervent prayers, that you may be able to bear this testimony, that you have seen the face of God. Therefore call upon him in faith in mighty prayer till you prevail, for it is your duty and your privilege to bear such a testimony for yourselves. (DHC, 2:192-98.)
Oliver’s charge was nothing new. Joseph Smith had already explained to the “School of the Prophets” that to be an “apostle” required a visit from Christ and the Father. Oliver was just repeating what everyone already knew.
So when the language of D & C 1 (“the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people”) is put into context, it really has nothing to do with a non-existent, traveling high council that was formed later. That later group displaced and overthrew church government, establishing itself as a controlling oligarchy that is non-scriptural, non-historical. Fortunately, we can know the Lord intends that “they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known.” If we compared the claims being made now to the scriptures, I suppose that might be possible to accomplish even now.