Lesson 27: “They Must Needs Be Chastened and Tried, Even as Abraham”
1934: Church History Sunday School Lessons
Lesson 29: The Saints Driven from Jackson County
For two summers straight, the Prophet made a two thousand mile round trip from Kirtland to Jackson County, the site for the New Jerusalem. On both visits he warned the Saints to keep the Sabbath day holy and otherwise observe all the laws of God, without which, they were told, they could not build the Holy City nor the sacred Temple. Now the third year, 1833, was here. During the first month, the Lord spoke to the Prophet, telling him again to send a message to the “Saints in the Land of Zion.” The following letter was then addressed to the High Council and the Bishop of the Church:
“If the people of Zion do not repent, the Lord will seek another people. Zion is the place where the Temple will be built, and the people gathered, but all people upon that Holy Land, being under condemnation, the Lord will cut them off, if they repent not, and bring another race upon it that will serve him. The Lord will seek another place, (which has proved to be the Rocky Mountains), to bring forth and prepare his word to go forth to the nations. Let the Bishop read this to the members that they may warn the members of the scourge that is coming, except they repent! Tell them they have not come up to Zion to sit down in idleness, neglecting the things of God, but they are to be diligent and faithful in obeying the new covenant.” (Having all things in common, no rich, no poor.)
A little later, the Prophet was impressed to send a second warning, begging the Saints, all of them on the holy land, to observe all the commandments lest they be swept off. Here is the word of the Lord, “We feel more like weeping over Zion than we do like rejoicing over her, for we know that the judgment of God’s hand is over her, and will fall upon her except she repent, and purify herself before the Lord, and put away from her every foul spirit. We now say to Zion, this once, In the name of the Lord, Repent! Repent1 Awake! Awake! – Before you are made to feel the chastening rod of him whose anger is kindled against you. Repent, repent, or Zion must suffer, for the scourge and judgment must come upon her.”
We should remember that at this early time, the Church was less than three years old; and hundreds and hundreds had joined it, who hardly knew its sacred laws nor the purity that must exist before the New Jerusalem could be built. The Lord, however, was anxious to give these people a chance to build His Holy City, providing they hearkened to the voice of the Lord. right now was their big test! Would they be accepted and allowed to build Zion? Without question many of the Saints were fully prepared, but not all, by any means.
From the very first month that the Saints began pouring into Jackson County, trouble started between them and the old settlers. When a year had passed, and over eight hundred Mormons had come, with hundreds of others on the way, and the prospect of thousands coming in the near future, the Missourians looked at one another, wondering what to do about it. Then, too, the Saints were from the east and north and believed that slaves should be set free. Since the farmers used the slaves for all their work, they objected to any thought that might free them. For other reasons, too, they were against so many Mormons coming. They feared that the Saints would soon hold all the offices in the government of the county and run things to suit themselves. Then, too, it was the common talk that the Mormons had in mind the buying of all the land and building a holy city, the New Jerusalem, where only the Saints could dwell. All others would be forced to leave. And, from the way the crowds were coming, this, no doubt, would soon take place.
We are told that most of these old settlers were a shiftless set with no liking for beautifying their homes, living in rude log cabins without a window even; and usually dirt floors, no pictures, stoves, or ornaments; and the dingy rough, log walls made blacker from the open fire-place and the constant smoking of all members old enough to use tobacco. Of course they were not all like this, but many were. And it was this group, who lived along the water courses by the hundreds, that the preachers stirred up and used against the Mormons. Most of them, too, were as wild as the country in which they lived. Dozens had but recently returned from great trapping and trading trips to the distant Rockies. More than one had scalped the Red Man as he fell from the bullets of the white man’s rifles. Why should they hesitate to use their guns against the Mormons, especially if the officers gave them a special invitation to do it? Yes, sir, they were ready! In fact, anxious! all they needed was a leader, and the excitement would be on. They had enjoyed battling the Indians. Why not the Mormons?
As summer approached, 1833, the stage seemed set. Th curtain of sorrows was about to rise. Although the scene was to be a disgraceful one, rude and abusive, with shooting and whipping done in reality. On July 20, five hundred men mobbed together at the courthouse, about a stone’s throw from the Temple site. Following many fiery speeches, which told what the Mormons had done, were doing, and expected to do; they made an attack upon Joseph Smith’s revelations and visions; the speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy, and the laying hands upon the sick, etc.; and last of all the Mormon views on slavery. They then declared that anyone believing in such things should be driven from the county. the slave-holders, the trappers and traders, and the other rough men shouted, “Aye! Aye! We’re ready!”
Those who headed this tumult and uproar were Samuel D. Lucas, judge of the county court; Samuel C. Owen, county clerk; John Smith, justice of the peace; William Brown, county peace officer, and Lilburn W. Boggs, lieutenant governor of the state. This last named man was made governor at the next election. We shall learn how the Saints suffered under him.
Regarding what then took place, we read, “With demoniac yells, the mob surrounded the printing office and house of W.W. Phelps. Mrs. Phelps, with a sick infant in her arms, and the rest of the children were forced out of the home, the furniture was thrown into the streets and garden, the press broken. The revelations, book-work and other papers were nearly all destroyed or kept by the mob, and the printing office and house were razed to the ground.” Bishop Partridge and Charles Allen were caught and tarred and feathered, and treated shamefully. Thus began the down-pour of persecution, bringing poverty, sickness and death.
Carrying a red flag, promising blood and death, forth rushed these ruffians, afoot and horseback, armed with clubs, whips, dirks, pistols, hatchets, and muskets. As winter approached, they grew more bold and daring. On the night of October 31, 1833, with the weather cold and stormy, soon after the people had crawled into their warm beds, and the boys and girls were off to slumber land, all of a sudden, a huge crowd of rough men on horseback rushed upon the homes, dragged out the people, and in some cases whipped men and boys until they fell to the ground helpless. Log houses were torn to pieces, and others set on fire, while the frightened mothers and half-clad children fled into the wilderness. The store was smashed in and the goods stolen and wasted. They rushed into the sick room of David Bennett, writes the Prophet, “and beat him most inhumanly, swearing they would blow out his brains. They discharged a pistol at him, and the ball cut a deep gash across the top of his head.” He never forgot how near he came to being killed.
Apostle Parley P. Pratt was smashed over the head with a gun and almost killed. Writing of these scenes he says, “Brother Philo Dibble was shot in the body through the waist band, the ball remaining in him. At length Elder Newel Knight administered to him. He was healed instantly, and later came to Utah with the Pioneers.”
The Saints, having bought their lands and homes, and having no place to flee for the winter, began arming themselves, ready for the fight. Colonel Pitcher, appointed by the State, called the Mormon soldiers together, took their arms away, and promised to stop the fighting. It was learned later, that he did this merely to aid the mob. The defenseless Saints were now driven from their burning homes. “A company of one hundred ninety, all being women and children, excepting three old men, was driven thirty miles across a burnt prairie, the ground being coated with sleet. The trail could easily be followed from the blood which flowed from their feet.” Two hundred and three homes and one flour mill were burned. Twelve hundred suffering Saints fled northward, across the Missouri River, and camped in Clay County for the winter.
1941: Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Lessons
Lesson 67: How to Act Under Persecution
(Read Sections 98, 99, 101)
1. The Situation: The revelations covered in this lesson were received in the months of August, for the first two and in December, for the third – all in 1833.
By this time the expulsion of the twelve hundred latter-day Saints in Jackson County was either in process of being carried out or was an accomplished fact. This must be borne in mind constantly as these sections are read. The revelations were received in Kirtland.
As we have seen, the scene in Missouri was heartrending. The Saints, now in Clay County, across the river, had lost almost everything – clothing, household furniture, other personal belongings, livestock, even crops, which were wantonly destroyed. And when some of the people attempted to settle in Van Buren County, they were followed by their persecutors. It was in view of this situation that these revelations, especially section 101, were received.
Why were the Saints persecuted and driven from their homes? And was Zion lost to them forever? These questions and other similar ones are answered here, not only for those who were most immediately concerned, but for us also who are alive now. For, as is usually the case with even the lesser revelations, if we may call them such, there is an under-layer of universal truth here, particularly in the last of these three sections.
In the chapters of Joseph Smith’s History (Volume I), where these revelations are recorded, they are in the midst of details of “mob violence in Zion” and “sympathy for the exiled Saints” – which shows the setting of the revelation.
2. Section 98: As already stated, this revelation was received in August, 1833, while the difficulties between the “old” and the “new” settlers in Jackson County were coming to a head.
a. It advises that the Saints there appeal to the “constitutional law of the land.” No law is a good law unless it is constitutional. “when the wicked rule, the people mourn.” Hence, “honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently,” and when they are in office, they should be upheld.
b. Again the Saints in Zion are counseled to “forsake all evil and cleave unto all good,” and to “live by every word which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.”
The Saints, it must be remembered, never violated any law of the land in Jackson County. All the officers there were not only non-Mormon, but anti-Mormon, and so, if any Mormon had stolen as much as a chicken, eh would have been hailed before the court and punished. Since there were no arrests of Mormons, it follows that their conduct was above the law. Indeed, in a document circulated against the Saints it was specifically pointed out that there was no law that would reach them. (this was the “Secret Constitution.” See History of the Church, Vol. I, p. 372.)
The complaint which is here laid at the door of the Mormons is not that they broke any civil law, but that they did not live to the higher law of the gospel. Doing this, they were advised not to be “afraid of your enemies,” but to face them courageously, to stand up to them. “I will prove you in all things, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death.”
c.”Let not your hearts be troubled; for in my father’s house are many mansions, and I have prepared a place for you.” Death was not to be feared on this account. it is a life of disobedience that is to be feared.
d. The Saints were to forgive their enemies – if they repented. In any event, the fate of those enemies was with the Lord, and he would see to them. “Renounce war and proclaim peace,” was their motto.
3. Section 101: This section, received after the expulsion, throws a flood of light on the situation, as it is seen from God’s viewpoint.
a. “I, the Lord, have suffered the affliction to come upon them [the Saints in Missouri], in consequence of their transgressions; yet I will own them, and they shall be mine in that day when I shall come to make up my jewels.” this affliction was a chastisement for them. “all those who will not endure chastening, but deny me, cannot be sanctified.”
b. Not civil law violations, but “jarrings, and contentions, and envyings, and strifes, and lustful and covetous desires” contributed to their undoing; thus they had “polluted their inheritances.” and then is added this striking and significant statement: “They were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their god; therefore, the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers, to answer them in the day of their trouble.”
c. some very definite promises are made here to the Saints under these depressing conditions. First, God, being merciful, will forgive them; second, their enemies will be punished; third, Israel will be gathered, though greatly scattered now; fourth, Zion shall not be removed, in spite of the fact that her people had been driven out. Not long after this the Prophet spoke of Zion being the whole of America, the spot in Jackson County being the center. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 362.)
d. Notwithstanding what has happened to the Saints in Missouri, the members of the Church are to gather, so as to be prepared to meet the Savior when he comes to reign on the earth. “In that day the enmity of man and the enmity of beasts, the enmity of all flesh, shall cease from before my face.” thus the millennium will be ushered in, of which poets and prophets have sung for centuries. Satan will then not have power to tempt man.
e. For the Saints, in spite of everything, are nevertheless the salt of the earth. But they must beware lest the salt lose its savor. this was said also of the ancient Saints, as we read in the Sermon on the Mount. Again we are reminded of the higher plane of life on which the followers of Jesus must live. They are not to be judged by worldly standards, but by gospel standards.
f. Then is related that beautiful parable of the vineyard, so splendidly told. Its purport and application here is that Zion, though lost through carelessness on the part of the “servants of the nobleman,” Zion will be redeemed “when I will.”
g. There follow (1) Instructions tot he Churches, (2) instructions to the scattered Saints, and (3) the story of the unjust judge, with its application to the situation in the case of the people.
With reference to faith and persecution, the following from President John Taylor is worth quoting: “We were driven out of Missouri – we were driven from one place to another in Missouri before we were driven out altogether. Then we were driven from Illinois to this Territory.
“But what of that?
“I know some men who thought the work was at an end. I remember a remark made by Sidney Rigdon – I suppose he did not live his religion; I do not think he did – his knees began to shake in Missouri; and on one occasion he said, ‘Brethren, every one of you take your own way, for the work seems as though it has come to and end.’
Brigham Young encouraged the people, and Joseph Smith told them to be firm and maintain their integrity, for God would be with his people and deliver them. I never saw a time that the Saints enjoyed themselves better than when they, apparently, were wading through their deepest troubles; I never saw them more full of the Holy Ghost.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. XI, pp. 25-6.)
Questions and Problems
1. What is it to be tested by the Lord? What about Abraham? How were the Saints of this period tried? Are you tried; if so, how?
2. Tell the difference between the plane on which the average non-church member lives and that which the Latter-day Saints is supposed to live. Set the items down, especially those that are at variance.
3. Why were the Saints expelled from Jackson County, according to section 101? Why do you think they were already living above the law? By what standard were they measured by the Lord? Why should they have been held to this standard?
4. What is it to be patient? Show that this situation presented special difficulties here. What is persecution? What form of isolation is practiced against us nowadays? Is this better or worse for us than outward persecution?
1949: Doctrine and Covenants Studies, by Bryant S. Hinckley
Chapter 19: THE NEW JERUSALEM (Section 45)
Quoting Documentary History of the Church, Volume I, page 158: “At this age of the church, (i.e., early in the spring of 1831) many false reports, lies, and foolish stories, were published in the newspapers, and circulated in every direction to prevent people from investigating the work, or embracing the faith. A great earthquake in China, which destroyed from one to two thousand inhabitants, was burlesqued in some papers as ‘Mormonism in China.’ But to the joy of the Saints who had to struggle against everything that prejudice and wickedness could invent, I received the following: …” (referring to the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants Sec. 45.)
This revelation may be divided into these parts: (1) God’s appeal to his people for obedience, verses 1-15. (2) A revelation concerning the day of redemption, 16-59. (3) Instructions regarding the gathering of the Saints and the building of the New Jerusalem, 60-75.
God’s Appeal to His People for Obedience
In the first paragraphs our Savior appeals to the members of the church for obedience to his word. Many reasons are given why we should render cheerful obedience.
Let us note some of the reasons:
(1) The kingdom is given to us – that is, we have the church with all its blessings, promises and opportunities.
(2) He laid the foundation of the earth and all things that live thereon. (Verse 1)
(3) We should not procrastinate lest death overtake us. (Verse 2)
(4) He pleads our cause before the Father. He intercedes in our behalf. (Verse 5)
(5) His blood was shed for us – for our sins.
(6) Listen while it is yet day – not too late.
(7) He is the beginning and the end, Alpha and Omega, the light and life of the world. (Verse 7)
(8) The Lord has again established the everlasting covenant in the world in preparation for his advent. (Verse 9)
(9) Why the city of Enoch was taken from the earth. (Verses 11 and 14)
(10) A day of righteousness sought by all holy men. (Verse 12)
(11) A day of righteousness near at hand. (Verse 14)
Day of Redemption
In verses 16 to 59 our Lord repeats to the Prophet Joseph the substance of his address delivered to the Twelve on the Mount of Olives, concerning his coming at the end of the world as recorded in Matthew 24:1-35. (Class will do well to read Matthew 24.) Many details and attitudes which throw light upon the important portions of the word of the Lord are given. The disciples asked for the signs of the Savior’s coming. He told them of the desolation that should come: Jerusalem was to be destroyed, and the temple to be thrown down; the Jews were to be scattered among all the nations and remain so until the times of the gentiles are fulfilled.
Times of the Gentiles
Among Jews, Gentiles are designated as those who are not Jews, and among Christians, those who are neither Jews nor Christians. The “times of the Gentiles” means their opportunity to hear and embrace the gospel. The “times of the Gentiles” refers to the time in which we live. In the days of the Savior the gospel was preached first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, and in our day it is preached first to the Gentiles and then to the Jews (See Romans 11:25.)
Verses 28 to 42 may be summarized as follows:
(1) In the times of the Gentiles a light should break forth among them that sit in darkness. (28)
(2) The people will not receive the light because of the precepts of men. (29)
(3) The times of the Gentiles will be fulfilled in their generation. (30)
(4) An overflowing scourge of sickness will cover the land. (31)
(5) Men will curse God and die, but certain disciples shall stand in holy places. (32)
(6) Earthquakes and many desolations will follow. (33)
(7) When all these things come to pass, the hour of Christ’s coming is nigh. (34-38)
(8) The sign of the fig tree. (36-38)
(9) The Faithful shall be looking for the great day of the Lord.
(10) Signs and wonders to be shown. (40-42)
The New Jerusalem
In the early revelations of the Church there are numerous references to the New Jerusalem and to Zion. But the most explicit and direct reference to it is found in this revelation: “And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the Saints of the Most High God; And the glory of the Lord shall be there, and the terror of the Lord also shall be there, insomuch that the wicked will not come unto it, and it shall be called Zion. And it shall come to pass among the wicked, that every man that will not take his sword against his neighbor must needs flee unto Zion for safety. And there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven; and it shall be the only people that shall not be at war one with another. And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. And it shall come to pass that the righteous shall be gathered out from among all nations, and shall come to Zion, singing with songs of everlasting joy.” (D&C 45:66-71.) “When Christ comes in fulfillment of this promise, there will be on the earth two great cities made holy with their sanctuaries or temples. One will be the City of Jerusalem in the land of Judah, which is to be rebuilt. The other, the City of Zion, or the New Jerusalem in the land of Joseph.” (AF, p. 366.)
The Founding of Zion in Missouri
A company of Saints known as the Colesville Branch because of their having lived in Colesville, Broome County, New York, arrived in Missouri, and having received instructions to purchase the lands in the region round about Zion, they secured a tract of land in a fertile prairie some ten or twelve miles west of Independence in Kaw township, not far from the present location of Kansas City. On the second of August, 1831, the day preceding the new settlement of the Colesville Saints, the first log was laid for a house as the foundation of Zion. The log was carried by twelve men in honor of the twelve tribes of Israel. Elder Sidney Rigdon consecrated and dedicated the land of Zion for the gathering of the Saints.
The Temple Site, in Independence, Jackson County, Missouri
“Taking the road running west from the courthouse for a scant half mile, you come to the summit of a hill, the slope of which to the south and west is quite abrupt, but very gradual to the north and east. this is the Temple site. It was at this spot on the third day of August, 1831, that Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, W.W. Phelps, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, Joseph Cole, and one other person whose name I cannot learn, for there were eight in all, men in whom the Lord was well pleased, assembled to dedicate this place as the Temple site in Zion. The eighty-seventh psalm was read. Joseph the Prophet then dedicated the spot where is to be built a temple upon which the glory of God shall rest. Yea, the Great God has so decreed it, saying, ‘Verily, this generation shall not pass away until a House shall be built unto the Lord. And a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the House – and the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering, and sacrifice in the House of the Lord, which shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot that I have appointed.’ (D&C 84:5, 6.)” (Elder B.H. Roberts, Missouri Persecutions.)
“That the New Jerusalem, or City of Zion, was to be built at once and the temple erected also, was naturally the thought of the assembled brethren. The Lord had previously given them a commandment respecting their duties and had instructed them in relation to His law to be observed in Zion. He indicated, also, that the city was not to be built at that time. ‘Ye cannot behold with your natural eyes, for the present time, the design of your God concerning those things which shall come hereafter, and the glory which shall follow after much tribulation. For after much tribulation come the blessings. wherefore the day cometh that ye shall be crowned with much glory; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand.’ (D&C 5:3, 4.)” (WP, p. 267.)
“Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until a house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.” (D&C 84:4, 5.)
More than a hundred years have passed since the site for the city of Zion was dedicated and the spot for the temple chosen and dedicated. Some members of the Church seem to be fearful as to whether the word of the Lord shall fail. The Saints attempted to build a temple, but they were prevented by their enemies. The Lord did not require the work of their hands at that time. But the responsibility still remains with this people, to build a city and the House of the Lord at some future time. When the Lord is ready for it to be accomplished, He will command His people and the work will be done. When this city is built, the glory of the Lord shall rest upon it and there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation those that are righteous, and to them it shall be a city of refuge unto which the wicked cannot come.
Brigham Young, speaking of this, said: “We look forward to the day when the Lord will prepare for the building of the New Jerusalem, preparatory to the City of Enoch’s going to be joined with it, when it is built upon this earth. We are anticipating to enjoy that day, whether we sleep in death previous to that, or not. We look forward, with all the anticipation and confidence that children can possess in a parent, that we shall be there when Jesus comes; and if we are not there, we will come with him; in either case we shall be there when He comes.
“We want all the Latter-day Saints to understand how to build up Zion. The city of Zion, in beauty and magnificence, will outstrip anything that is now known upon the earth. The curse will be taken from the earth and sin and corruption will be swept from its face. Who will do this great work? Is the Lord going to convince the people that He will redeem the center stake of Zion, beautify it and then place them there without an exertion on their part? No. He will not come here to build a temple, a tabernacle, a bowery, or to set out fruit trees, make aprons of fig leaves or coats of skins, or work in brass and iron, for we already know how to do these things. He will not come here to teach us how to raise and manufacture cotton, how to make hand cards, how to card, how to make spinning machines, looms, etc., etc. We have to build up Zion, if we do our duty.
“I have many times asked the questions, ‘Where is the man that knows how to lay the first rock for the wall that is to surround the New Jerusalem or the Zion of God on the earth? Where is the man who knows how to construct the first gate of the city? Where is the man who understands how to build up the kingdom of God in its purity and to prepare for Zion to come down to meet it?’ ‘Well,’ says one, ‘I thought the Lord was going to do this.’ So he is, if we will let him. This is what we want: we want the people to be willing for the Lord to do it. But he will do it by means. He will not send his angels to gather up the rock to build up the New Jerusalem. He will not send his angels from the heavens to go to the mountains to cut the timber and make it into lumber to adorn the City of Zion. He has called upon us to do this work; and if we will let him work by, through, and with us, he can accomplish it; otherwise we shall fall short, and shall never have the honor of building up Zion on the earth.” (DBY, pp. 184, 185.)
Latter-day Saints look forward to the day when all that is promised in the scriptures with reference to that holy city shall be fulfilled; that Jackson County, Missouri, shall be the center stake of Zion and that the New Jerusalem shall be built there – a city of refuge, a place of safety for the Saints and that the glory of the Lord shall be upon it, and there shall be gathered unto it out of every nation under heaven.