On the evening of Sunday, 26 December 1841, JS delivered a discourse in , Illinois, on the gift of tongues. The New Testament records instances of and teachings related to speaking in other tongues and identifies speaking in tongues as one of various spiritual gifts. Although he had at times encouraged speaking in tongues as a means of worship and revelation, in , JS regularly asserted his preference for tongues as a tool to preach the gospel.
The occasion for this discourse was a public meeting of the Saints held at JS’s home. JS’s brother , the , and , president of the , preached on faith and spiritual gifts. Then JS preached a sermon on the dangers and benefits of speaking in tongues. JS began by reading from 1 Corinthians chapters 13 and 14, in which Paul wrote that charity and prophecy were greater than speaking in tongues. JS warned against the unreliability of tongues, given that the devil also could speak in foreign tongues, and in turn emphasized that tongues should be used for preaching in foreign lands. He concluded by discussing 1 Corinthians 14:27—“If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret”—and emphasizing the importance of individuals hearing the gospel in their own native tongues.
recorded the discourse in JS’s journal entry of 26 December 1841, probably copying from notes. Richards kept JS’s journal on his behalf in the Book of the Law of the Lord.
President Joseph read the 13th. chap of 1st corinthians and a part of the 14 chap, and remarked that the gift of Tongues was necessary in the ; <but> That if satan could not speak in tongues he could not tempt a Dutchman, or any other nation, but the English, for he can tempt the Englishman, for he has tempted me, & I am an Englishman; but the Gift of Tongues, by the power of the Holy Ghost, in the church, is for the benefit of the servants of God to preach to unbelievers, as on the days of Pentecost, when devout men from evry nation shall assemble to hear of the things of God. let the <> preach to them in their own Mother tongue. whither it is German, French, Spanish or Irish. or any other. & let those interpret who understand the tongue <Language> spoken. by in their mother tongue. & this is what the Apostle meant. in 1s[t] corinthians 14:27. [p. 39]