On or around 9 March 1841, JS attended and spoke at the weekly meeting of the , Illinois, lyceum, a society dedicated to the education of adults. It was the tenth lyceum meeting that year for which recorded an entry in his notebook. In the meeting, a “father Cole” attempted to clarify what he had taught in a previous meeting about “the fullness of the Gospel” and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cole’s clarification appears to have motivated JS’s subsequent remarks on the and the nature of the Godhead. JS spoke again later in the meeting on other topics, including Adam’s transgression and the measurement of time.
wrote an account of the meeting, including JS’s sermons, in his notebook, presumably during the meeting or shortly thereafter. Although McIntire did not provide a date for the meeting, lyceum meetings appear to have been held every Tuesday in 1841, and because the account featured here is found in the tenth entry of McIntire’s notebook, the meeting most likely took place at the lyceum meeting held on 9 March, the tenth Tuesday of 1841.
This dating assumes a weekly meeting beginning on Tuesday, 5 January 1841. For more on the dating issues in McIntire’s notebook, see Historical Introduction to Discourse, ca. 2 Feb. 1841.
Subject 1st. on the Gospel By father Cole he said that th Some thought that He difered from president Smith Concerning the time of the Giving of the — as teach that all men Receive the Holy Ghost before — Joseph said men do not take Notice of things as they Read them— or they might know things as they Read them— he quotes Petter 2d. Repent & be Baptized &c— & ye shall Receive the Gift of the Holly Ghost— Now said he (taking up his Cap & presenting to ) in Giveing you this Gift is not Giving myself— However there is a in With <the> Holy Ghost & Key— the Holy Ghost over shadows you & witness unto you of the authority & the Gifts of the Holy Ghost— he said was the provence of the Father to preside as the Chief or president— Jesus as the Mediator & Holy Ghost as the testator or witness— the Son Had a Tabernicle & so had the father But the Holly Ghost is a personage of spirit without tabernicle the Great God has a Name By wich he will be Called Which is Ahman— also in [p. ]
The confusion over when one received the gift of the Holy Ghost may have stemmed from the teaching in Latter-day Saint scripture that, before baptism, the Spirit can witness of the truth and prompt a person to be baptized. The Book of Mormon teaches that the “spirit of Christ is given to every man, that they may know good from evil,” and the book encourages readers to “ask God, the eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost; and by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye may know the truth of all things.” Despite the Book of Mormon’s references to the Spirit of Christ or the role of the Holy Ghost in testifying of truth to people, JS made a clear distinction between experiencing the influence of the Spirit and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, which came only after baptism. In an 1839 letter to Isaac Galland, JS taught that the “promise of the gift of the Holy Ghost, [was] predicated upon the baptism for the remission of sins.” (Book of Mormon, 1840 ed., 561, 569 [Moroni 7:16; 10:3–4]; Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.)
JS’s first known usage of the term “Ahman” to refer to God appears in “Sample of Pure Language,” which was prepared in 1832. In that document, JS taught that the “pure” language is the language Adam and Eve spoke with God in the Garden of Eden. The document includes the question, “What is the name of God in pure Language,” to which JS responded, “Awmen.” The document further identified “the name of the Son of God” as “the Son Awmen.” JS explained that the meaning of “Awmen” was “the being which made all things in all its parts.” (Sample of Pure Language, between ca. 4 and ca. 20 Mar. 1832.)