At some point between 6 and 9 April 1841 in , Illinois, JS gave a discourse about the need for missionaries to provide for their families. From 7 to 11 April the held a general , during which most members of the were proselytizing in Europe, and several other men were serving missions in various parts of the . Increased missionary activity led to concern for the temporal welfare of wives and children left behind in Nauvoo and neighboring areas while husbands and fathers were away proselytizing for the church. Local support was available for the families of missionaries, and an earlier revelation indicated that the church had the responsibility for taking care of those families. However, at the April 1840 general conference, JS “spoke to the respecting their mission, and advised those who went into the world, to preach the gospel, to leave their families provided for, with the necessaries of life.” In the discourse featured here, JS again emphasized that missionaries were responsible for ensuring their families’ welfare prior to departing on extended missions.
It is unclear precisely when JS delivered this discourse. , who recorded an account of the discourse, gave the date as 6 April. That date coincides with the eleventh anniversary of the church’s founding and with the cornerstone ceremony of the , which took place the day before the business portion of the church’s general conference began. JS spoke at the cornerstone ceremony, but no evidence indicates that he gave instructions for missionaries during that event. McIntire likely considered the day of the ceremony to be the first day of the conference and so recorded his notes that way.
An examination of the published minutes of the general conference that followed the cornerstone ceremony provides another possible date for JS’s discourse. The minutes record that on 9 April, “Pres’r. J. Smith made some observations respecting the duty of the several , in sending their members into the vineyard.” Because that statement is similar to what recorded, it is possible that the sermon as recorded by McIntire was given on 9 April. However, in McIntire’s notebook, this discourse from JS is followed by notes from sermons given by and on 8 April 1841, suggesting that JS may have delivered this discourse on 6, 7, or 8 April rather than 9 April 1841. According to McIntire, JS directed his words to the of the quorums of the church. McIntire presumably inscribed his notes on JS’s discourse during the conference or shortly thereafter.
In its 15 February 1841 issue, the Times and Seasons indicated the cornerstone ceremony would open the forthcoming April general conference of the church. (“The General Conference, and the Temple of God,” Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1841, 2:320.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
April the 6th. 1841 Joseph said to the of the that they should see that No man go out to preach unless their Family, was amply Provided for; and if not provided for stay untill they are, this is Done to put up the Borrs against those that, mearly Join the & Get to Get their familys struck in her & Go out & Glut themselves while the Church has their familys to Keep. [p. ]
A week earlier, JS also spoke against “dishonest men amongst us who has more injenity [ingenuity] to cheat the Rest.” (Account of Meeting, ca. 30 Mar. 1841; see also Book of Mormon, 1840 ed., 299 [Alma 30:31–32].)