Revelation, , Susquehanna Co., PA, to JS, July 1828. Featured version copied [ca. Mar. 1831] in Revelation Book 1, pp. 1–2; handwriting of ; CHL. Includes redactions. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation Book 1.
This is the first JS revelation for which a text has survived. According to JS’s history, it was obtained using the after lost the earliest Book of Mormon manuscript. Working in , Pennsylvania, from mid-April to mid-June 1828, JS dictated and Harris wrote what JS later called “the Book of Lehi,” from the gold plates. Facing ongoing opposition from his , Harris pressed JS to “enquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin” whether Harris could take the translation to his home in , New York, to “read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth.” JS’s history said that he “inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he [Harris] must not take” the manuscript. Dissatisfied with the answer, Harris made a second request, resulting in a similar inquiry and answer. Finally, “after much solicitation” from Harris, JS “again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him [Harris] to have the writings on certain conditions,” which included showing them only to specified family members.
With the manuscript in hand, left for , apparently on 14 June. On 15 June, gave birth to a who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth. For nearly three weeks JS cared for Emma, who in ’s words felt “to tremble upon the verge of the silent home of her infant.” As Emma began to recover in early July, she encouraged JS to “repair to , for the purpose of learning the cause of Mr. Harris absence, as well as silence.” Shortly after JS arrived at his parents’ home near Palmyra, he learned that Harris had lost the manuscript. Lucy Mack Smith wrote that “sobs and groans . . . filled the house,” with JS “weeping and grieving like a tender infant.” He and his family soon “parted with heavy hearts,” and JS returned to .
JS’s history described the historical setting for the revelation: “Immediately after my return home [to ] I was walking out a little distance, when Behold the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummin again (for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting take the writings which he lost by transgression) and I enquired of the Lord through them and obtained the folowing revelation.” It is not known when or how the text was committed to paper. Although JS may have written it himself, he dictated later revelations to scribes and may have dictated this one to either or her brother Reuben Hale, both of whom served as scribes to JS during this time. The earliest extant version of the revelation, featured here, was copied into Revelation Book 1 by , likely in early 1831.
The revelation rebuked JS for allowing to take the manuscript and commanded him to repent before he could resume the translation. According to , the angel told JS that because he “had sinned in that he had delivered the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man . . . he would of necessity suffer the consquence’s of his indiscretion.” However, after losing the plates and the spectacles, JS continued his “suplications to God without cessation” until he “had the joy and satisfaction of again receiving the urim and Thummim.”
JS History, vol. A-1, 9; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 5. Lucy Harris had recently traveled to Harmony to see the plates herself but left in anger when JS would not allow it. Martin and Lucy Harris likely had a troubled marriage prior to Martin’s involvement with JS and the translation of the plates. In the spring of 1828 Martin and Lucy finalized a jointure agreement giving Lucy her marital or dower interest. The document by which Martin deeded Lucy’s portion of the property to her (by way of her brother Peter Harris) bears an 1825 date but was recorded and filed in May 1828. Since Lucy opposed Martin’s involvement in the translation, she may have pressured him into executing this agreement to protect her interests because she feared that he would offer financial support for the translation and printing of the Book of Mormon, which he in fact did. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, –; Wayne Co., NY, Deed Records, 1823–1904, vol. 5, pp. 530–532, 29 Nov. 1825, microfilm 478,782, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)
Sophia Lewis reportedly said that she was present at the birth and that the baby was stillborn. Lucy Mack Smith, not present at the birth, wrote that the baby “was very soon snatched from her [Emma’s] arms and borne aloft to the world of spirits.” Although the birth and death of this baby are recorded in JS’s family Bible under the name of “Alvin Smith,” this information was recorded in the Bible decades after the event by someone other than JS or Emma. The baby’s gravestone does not give him a name but reads, “An Infant Son of Joseph and Emma Smith.” (Sophia Lewis, Statement, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian [Montrose, PA], 1 May 1834, ; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, ; JS Family Bible; Photograph of Tombstone, 1907, George Edward Anderson, Glass Plate Negative Collection, 1897–1927, CHL; see also JS History, 1834–1836, 9; and Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289.)
Susquehanna Register, and Northern Pennsylvanian. Montrose, PA. 1831–1836.
JS Family Bible / Joseph Smith Family Bible, ca. 1831–1866. Private possession. Copy of genealogical information in Joseph Smith Sr. Family Reunions Files, 1972–2003. CHL.
Anderson, George Edward. Glass Plate Negative Collection, 1897–1927. CHL. PH 725. A selection of photographs from this collection are available in Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, T. Jeffery Cottle, and Ted D. Stoddard, ed., Church History in Black and White: George Edward Anderson’s Photographic Mission to Latter-day Saint Historical Sites; 1907 Diary, 1907–8 Photographs (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1995).
Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, , . JS’s later history said the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from him twice, the first time (as noted above) after he wearied the Lord in requesting that Harris be allowed to take the manuscript. Then, after the angel returned the Urim and Thummim and JS obtained through it the revelation presented here, “both the plates, and the Urim and Thummin were taken from me again.” After “a few days” they were given back and another revelation explained that “because you delivered up so many writings, which you had power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them, and you also lost your gift at the same time, nevertheless it has been restored unto you again: therefore, see that you are faithful and go on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work as you have begun.” Lucy Mack Smith explained that the plates, and presumably the Urim and Thummim, were returned “on the 22 of september .” (JS History, vol. A-1, 10–11; Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:1–3].)
July one Thousand Eight hundred & Twenty Eight Given to Joseph the after he had lost certan writings which he had by the gift & Power of God
Saying the words <works> of & designs & the Purposes of God cannot be frustrated neither can they come to naught ground for God doth not wa[l]k in crooked Paths neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left neither doth vary from that which he hath said therefore his paths are strait & his course is one eternal round Remember Remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated but the works of men for although a man may have many Revelations & have power to do many Mighty works yet if he boast in his own strength & Sets at naught the councils of God & follows after the dictates of his will & carnal desires he must fall to the Earth & incur the vengence of a Just God upon him behold you have been intrusted with those things but strict was your & Remember also the Promises which were made to you if you transgressed them & behold how oft you have transgressed them Laws of God & have gone on in the Persuasions of men for behold you should not have feared men more then God although men set at naught the councils of God & dispise his words yet you should have been faithful & he would have extended his arm & supported you against all the firey darts of the advisary & he would have been with you in evry time of trouble behold thou art Joseph & thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord but because of transgression thou mayest fall but remember God is merciful therefore repent of that which thou hast done & he will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season & thou art still chosen & will & will again be called to the work & except [p. 1]
In his earliest history JS explained: “The Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass afte[r] much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again.” (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, .)