Revelation, “land of Zion” , 7 Aug. 1831; copied [ca. 30 Aug. 1831]; handwriting of ; one page; Newel K. Whitney, Papers, BYU. Includes dockets and archival marking.
One loose leaf, possibly cut from a bound book, measuring 12½ × 7½ inches (32 x 19 cm). The document was kept folded for filing by with a conventional filing folding. Dockets on verso in graphite in Whitney’s handwriting: “How to Spend the day | Calld Sunday &c &c” and “Sunday”.
This and several other revelations, along with many other personal and institutional documents kept by Whitney, were inherited by his daughter Mary Jane Whitney, who married Isaac Groo. This collection was passed down in the Groo family and donated by members of the family to the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University during the period 1969–1974.
Andrus et al., “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” 5–6.
Andrus, Hyrum L., Chris Fuller, and Elizabeth E. McKenzie. “Register of the Newel Kimball Whitney Papers, 1825–1906,” Sept. 1998. BYU.
On 7 August 1831, JS dictated a revelation in “instructing the sa[i]nts how to keep the sabath & how to fast and pray.” The revelation was specifically addressed to those “who have come up unto” Missouri, in fulfillment of the commandment to gather there and build up the city of Zion. Some of the instruction in the revelation probably came in response to the conduct of the inhabitants of , Jackson County, Missouri, among whom these Saints were living. Many of those already in had migrated there from southern states, whereas most church members entering the area were from the Northeast. As , who traveled with JS to Missouri, explained in a July 1831 letter, Jackson County residents were “emigrants from Tennessee, Kentucky, , and the Carolinas, &c., with customs, manners, modes of living and a climate entirely different from the northerners.” One custom that was especially different was Sabbath day observance. A later JS history characterizes many of the residents as “the basest of men” who “had fled from the face of civilized society, to the frontier country to escape the hand of justice, in their midnight revels, their sabbath breaking, horseracing, and gambling.” A traveler to western Missouri in 1833 made a similar observation, stating that “the only indications of its being Sunday” in the area was “the unusual Gambling & noise, & assemblies around taverns.” Sabbath day observance, however, was an important component of worship to many members of the . Perhaps because of the general nonobservance of the Sabbath among the inhabitants of Jackson County, the 7 August revelation emphasized the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy, outlining what church members should do on that day. These guidelines filled a void that neither the “Articles and Covenants” of the church nor the February 1831 revelation giving the “Laws of the Church of Christ” had addressed, thereby providing direction to those who would be building up the without the benefit of JS’s in-person leadership.
The revelation may have also been a response to the concerns of those who had gone to and felt daunted by the task of building up Zion in a region described by one observer as containing only “two or three merchants stores, and fifteen or twenty dwelling houses, built mostly of logs hewed on both sides.” The writer Washington Irving, who traveled through in 1832 on an expedition with federal Indian commissioners, also commented on the “rougher and rougher life” he encountered as he got closer to the town, while his traveling companion Charles Latrobe described Independence as “full of promise” but containing “nothing but a ragged congeries of five or six rough log huts, two or three clapboard houses, two or three so-called hotels, grogshops; [and] a few stores.” Perhaps to encourage the Saints in such conditions, the revelation promised the bounties of the earth to church members and reminded them to express gratitude to God.
The revelation assured heavenly rewards for the obedient who would die in Zion—prompted, perhaps, by the death on the morning of 7 August of , the fifty-seven-year-old wife of , and a friend of JS and his family. Polly Knight had traveled to with the Saints, but after falling ill she became “the first death in the church in this land.” It is unclear whether this revelation was dictated before or after JS was informed of her death.
served as the scribe for the original inscription of this revelation. The copy featured here belonged to and is also in Cowdery’s handwriting. Whitney’s copy may be the original but is more likely a fair copy. It was likely made for him sometime after Cowdery returned to at the end of August. Around that same time, copied the revelation into Revelation Book 1. That there are few differences between the two copies suggests they were made around the same time or from the same copy.
Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58]. This revelation may have resulted in part from a desire to know what rewards such individuals would obtain. The statement “trouble me no more concerning this matter”—which appears in the closing portion of the revelation—suggests that the revelation came as a response to inquiry on the part of JS or others with him.
JS, “Church History,” Times and Seasons, 1 Mar. 1842, 3:708. According to one history of Independence, the first clerk of the circuit court even left the town because of “the rough exterior and uncultivated manners of the people.” (History of Jackson County, Missouri, 104.)
Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.
Cowdery reached Kirtland, Ohio, on 27 August 1831. A 30 August 1831 revelation directed that Whitney be appointed an agent in Ohio and that he accompany Cowdery to different churches in the area to raise money for land purchases in Zion. Cowdery may have copied the 7 August revelation for Whitney in preparation for this trip, or he may have made a copy for Whitney as they traveled together. (JS History, vol. A-1, 146; Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:45–46].)
A copy of the revelation exists in the “Book of Commandments Law and Covenant,” book A, in Samuel Smith’s handwriting. Although Smith was likely present when the revelation was dictated (he arrived in Missouri on 4 August), he probably did not make his copy until after the spring of 1832, since it follows revelations in book A that are dated in early 1832. Smith’s copy, too, is similar to the other early manuscript copies; it is possible, though not likely, that Smith’s copy is earlier than the Whitney copy featured herein. (Hyde and Smith, Notebook, –; Edward Partridge, Independence, MO, to Lydia Clisbee Partridge, 5–7 Aug. 1831, Edward Partridge, Letters, 1831–1835, CHL.)
Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.
Partridge, Edward. Letters, 1831–1835. CHL. MS 23154.
Behold blessed saith the Lord are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory according to my for them that live shall inherit the earth and them that die shall rest from all their labours & their works shall follow them they shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father which I have prepared for them. Yea blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of who have obeyed my Gospel for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the earth & it shall bring forth in her strength & they also shall be crowned with blessings from above yea & with commandments not a few & with revelations in their time they that are faithful & diligent before me. Wherefore I give unto them a commandment saying thus Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart with all thy might mind & strength & in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself thou shalt not steal neither commit adultry nor kill or do any thing like unto it thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things thou shalt offer a sacrafice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness even that of a broken heart & a contrite spirit. And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world thou shalt go to the house of prayer & offer up thy upon my holy day for verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labours & to pay thy devotions unto the most high Nevertheless thy vows should be offered up in righteousness <in> all days & at all times but remember that on this the Lords day thou shalt offer thine oblations & thy sacraments unto the most High Confessing thy sins unto thy brethren & before the Lord & on this day thou shalt do none other <things> only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fastings may be perfect or in other words that thy joy may be full verily this is fasting and prayer or in other words rejoicing & prayer. And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving with cheerful hearts & coutenances not with much laughter (for this is sin) but with a glad heart & a cheerful countenance verily I say that inasmuch as ye do this the fulness of the earth is yours the beasts of the fields & the fowls of the air & that which climbeth upon trees & walketh upon the earth yea & the herb & the good things which cometh of the earth whether for food or for raiment or for houses or for barns or for orchards or for gardens or for vineyards yea all things which cometh of the earth in the season therof is made for the benefit & the <use> of man both to please the eye & to gladen the heart yea for food & for raiment for taste & for smell to strengthen the body & to enliven the soul & it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man for unto this end were they made to be used with judgement not to excess neither by extortion & in nothing doth man offend God or against none is his wrath kindled save those who Confess not his hand in all things & obey not his commandments behold this is according to the law & the prophets. Wherefore trouble me no more concerning this matter but learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward even peace in this world & eternal life in the world to come I the Lord hath spoken it & the spirit beareth record Amen
Given by Joseph the & written by August 7. 1831 in the land of [p. ]
See Matthew 6:22; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 533 [Mormon 8:15]; and Revelation, Feb. 1829 [D&C 4:5]. While working on his revision of the Bible in spring 1831, JS changed the passage in Matthew 6:22 to read, “If therefore if thine eye be single to the glory of God thy whole body shall be full of light.” (New Testament Revision 1, p. 13 [Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 6:22]; see also Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 64–65.)
New Testament Revision 1 / “A Translation of the New Testament Translated by the Power of God,” 1831. CCLA. Also available in Scott H. Faulring, Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004), 153–228.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
See Isaiah 56:6–7. The Articles and Covenants previously instructed members to “meet together oft to partake bread & wine in Rememberance of the Lord Jesus,” but this revelation appears to be the first time that partaking of the Lord’s Supper is specifically associated with Sunday worship. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelation Book 1, p. 57 [D&C 20:75].)
A passage in the Book of Mormon implies that when one fasts and prays much, one can “worship God with exceeding great joy.” (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 348 [Alma 45:1]; “Baptism, &c.,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Apr. 1833, .)
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
A May 1831 revelation explained that “the beasts of the field & the fowls of the air & that which cometh of the Earth is ordained for the use of man for food & for raiment & that he might have in abundance.” After hearing reports in Kirtland, Ohio, from those who had traveled to Missouri, Elizabeth Godkin Marsh explained that “common game” in Missouri consisted of “Deer Turkies, prairie hens Rabt [a]nd Gray squirels.” She also reported that the state had an abundance of “wild plumbs, wild sweet grapes, mulberies, strawberies, rspberries, and Blackberies, hazlenuts hickery nuts &c are two numerious to mention.” (Revelation, 7 May 1831 [D&C 49:19]; Elizabeth Godkin Marsh, Kirtland Mills, OH, to Lewis Abbott and Ann Abbott, East Sudbury, MA, Sept. , Abbott Family Collection, CHL.)
Abbott Family Collection, 1831–2000. CHL. MS 23457.