Discourse, 5 January 1841, as Reported by William Clayton

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

By Joseph, Jany. 5th, 1841, at the organization of a school of instruction.
Description of Paul— He is about 5 foot high; very dark hair; dark complection; dark skin; large Roman nose; sharp face; small black eyes, penetrating as eternity; round shoulders; a whining voice, exept when elevated and then it almost resembles the roaring of a Lion. He was a good orator, but is a superior orator, and like Paul is active and diligent, always, employing himself in doing good to his fellow men. [p. 4]
By Joseph, January 5th, 1841. Answer to the question, was the taken away when Moses died.
All priesthood is Melchizedeck; but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion which brought Moses to speak with God face to face was taken away; but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All the Prophets had the Melchizedeck Priesthood and was ordained by God himself.
The world and earth are not synonymous terms. The world is the human family. This earth was organized or formed out of other planets which were broke up and remodelled and made into the one on which we live. The elements are eternal. That which has a beginning [p. 5] will surely have an end.
Take a ring, it is without beginning or end; cut it for a beginning place, and at the same time you will have an ending place.
A , every principle proceeding from God is eternal, and any principle which is not eternal is of the Devil. The sun has no beginning or end, the rays which proceed from himself have no bounds, consequently are eternal. So it is with God. If the soul of man had a beginning it will surely have an end. In the translation; “without form and void” it should read “empty and desolate” The word “created” should be formed or organized. [p. 6]
Observations on the Sectarian God.
That which is without body or parts is nothing. There is no other God in heaven but that God who has flesh and bones. John 5— 26, “As the father hath life in himself, even so hath he given the son to have life in himself.” God the father took life unto himself precisely as Jesus did. The first step in the salvation of men is the laws of eternal and self-existent principles. Spirits are eternal. At the first organization in heaven we were all present and saw the Savior chosen and appointed, and the plan of salvation made and we sanctioned it. We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the Celestial Kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having [p. 7] a body. The Devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. He is pleased when he can obtain the tabernacle of man and when cast out by the Savior he asked to go into the herd of swine showing that he would prefer a swines body to having none. All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God the Devil takes power.
This earth will be rolled back into the presence of God and crowned with Celestial Glory. [p. 8]


  1. 1

    JS may have been familiar with a similar physical description of Paul in the pseudepigraphical Acts of Paul. According to that account, Paul was “of a low stature, bald (or shaved) on the head, crooked thighs, handsome legs, hollow-eyed; had a crooked nose; full of grace; for sometimes he had the countenance of an angel.” At some point while in Nauvoo, JS owned a copy of William Hone’s The Apocryphal New Testament, containing a translation of the Acts of Paul, which JS donated in early 1844 to the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute. (Wayment, “Joseph Smith’s Description of Paul the Apostle,” 39–53; Acts of Paul, 1:7, in [Hone], Apocryphal New Testament, 100; Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute Record, [19].)  

    Wayment, Thomas A. “Joseph Smith’s Description of Paul the Apostle.” Mormon Historical Studies 13, nos. 1–2 (Spring and Fall 2012): 39–53.

    [Hone, William]. The Apocryphal New Testament, Being All the Gospels, Epistles and Other Pieces Now Extant, Attributed in the First Four Centuries to Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and Their Companions and Not Included in the New Testament by Its Compilers. London: By the author, 1820.

    Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute Record, Jan.–June 1844. CHL. MS 3431.

  2. 2

    Neither Clayton nor McIntire identified those in attendance for this discourse, but Bennett, who was living with the Smith family at the time, may have been present. Two weeks later, a revelation said of Bennett, whose efforts had recently helped secure the passage of a city charter for Nauvoo, “I have seen the work he hath done, which I accept, if he continue, and will crown him with blessings and great glory.” (JS, Store Daybook, 8 Dec. 1843, 92; Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124:17]; Act to Incorporate the City of Nauvoo, 16 Dec. 1840.)  

    JS’s Store Daybook, Jan. 1842–July 1842. CHL.

  3. 3

    Sometime between 1 March and 4 May 1835, JS prepared an instruction on the nature of the Melchizedek Priesthood, describing its relation to the “Aaronic” or “Levitical” lesser priesthood and to the offices within these divisions of priesthood. (Instruction on Priesthood, between ca. 1 Mar. and ca. 4 May 1835 [D&C 107].)  

  4. 4

    See Exodus 33:11.  

  5. 5

    A September 1832 revelation stated that after the children of Israel fell away, God “took Moses out of there midst and the holy Priesthood also, and the lesser Priesthood continued, which Priesthood holdeth the keys of the ministring of Angels.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:25–26].)  

  6. 6

    For some years, JS had taught the concept that all matter was eternal in nature. A May 1833 revelation stated that “the Elements are eternal,” and John Smith recorded in his 30 August 1840 journal entry that JS “continued his discourse on Eternal Judgement and the Eternal Duration of matter.” (Revelation, 6 May 1833 [D&C 93:33]; John Smith, Journal, 1840–1841, 30 Aug. 1840.)  

    Smith, John (1781-1854). Journal, 1833–1841. John Smith, Papers, 1833-1854. CHL. MS 1326, box 1, fd. 1.

  7. 7

    Genesis 1:2.  

  8. 8

    The 1646 Westminster Assembly’s widely cited Confession of Faith stated that “there is but one only, living, and true God: who is infinite in Being and Perfection, a most pure Spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions.” (Humble Advice of the Assembly of Divines, Now by Authority of Parliament Sitting at Westminster, concerning a Confession of Faith, 5.)  

    The Humble Advice of the Assembly of Divines, Now by Authority of Parliament Sitting at Westminster, concerning a Confession of Faith: With the Quotations and Texts of Scripture Annexed. Presented by Them Lately to Both Houses of Parliament. Edinburgh: Evan Tyler, 1647.

  9. 9

    A 6 May 1833 revelation declared, “Man was also in the begining with God, inteligence or the Light of truth was not created or made.” Published by JS in 1842, the Book of Abraham explained that individual “intelligences,” or spirits, existed in the presence of God, the most intelligent of them all, before the creation of the world. (Revelation, 6 May 1833 [D&C 93:29]; “The Book of Abraham,” Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, 3:720 [Abraham 3:19, 22–23]; see also Letter to Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 14 May 1840.)  

  10. 10

    See Matthew 8:30–32.