At a lyceum meeting in , Illinois, likely held on 30 March 1841, JS delivered a discourse about stewardship and the feasibility of equally redistributing property among members, after which he addressed the identity of the “other Comforter” in the Gospel of John. In 1831, JS dictated a revelation instructing church members to live the law of . Under this law, members were supposed to donate surplus money, goods, and land to the church; in return, they would receive an “inheritance,” or parcel of land deeded to them, to support themselves and their families. This inheritance was also known as a and was granted according to members’ circumstances, needs, and wants. After the consecrated properties were redistributed, any surplus would be given to the poor. Ostensibly, the consecration and redistribution of properties according to individual circumstances would increase equality and eliminate social classes among church members. A revelation dictated by JS in 1832 explained that “it is the will of the Lord that the church should be made equal in all things.”
While church members made some early attempts to consecrate property in this manner, the practice was never fully implemented among everyone in the church. Once the Saints moved to the area, the question of consecration emerged again. In , Iowa Territory, located just across the from Nauvoo, the local voted in December 1839 to implement the law of consecration to care for the poor in Lee County. JS was in at the time of this vote, but in March 1840, after he had returned, he explained that God did not require church members to live the law of consecration at that time. In the discourse featured here, JS again spoke about the redistribution of property and economic equality and repeated that the Saints were not to live the law of consecration “at present.”
During this March 1841 meeting, JS also addressed the identity of the being described by Jesus as “another Comforter” in John 14:16. In response to ’s remarks on this topic, JS offered his own translation of John 14:16 and identified the other Comforter as Jesus himself.
took notes of this lyceum meeting in his notebook. McIntire did not provide a date for the meeting. However, the entry for this meeting appears after entries for two consecutive “Sabbath” meetings, presumably held on 21 and 28 March. Because lyceum meetings appear to have been held every Tuesday in early 1841, it is likely that this meeting of the lyceum took place the following Tuesday, 30 March. The entry following this discourse in McIntire’s journal is dated 6 April 1841.
Revelation, between ca. 8 and ca. 24 Mar. 1832. An 1831 letter from Thomas B. Marsh reveals that from the church’s beginning, its goal of creating a community of equals, or Zion, included the elimination of class distinctions. In the letter, he used the concept of Zion, where all would live in equality, to urge his sister and her husband to leave their home and join the religious movement in Ohio. He wrote that if they came, they would find “a blessed people who are all one not rich & poor bond & free but all are one in Christ partakers of the Hevenly gift.” (Thomas B. Marsh and Elizabeth Godkin Marsh to Lewis Abbott and Ann Marsh Abbott, [ca. 11 Apr. 1831], Abbott Family Collection, CHL.)
Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL. MS 23457.
Next Meeting Lecyum 1st.— an Equality in property & in knoledge Joseph said that an Equality would Not answer for he says if we would equel in property at present in six months we would be worse than ever for there is too many dis[h]onest men amongst us who has more injenity [ingenuity] to cheat the Rest &c [p. ]