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The Kirtland Crisis Doctrine & Covenants Sections 111 -112
Debts It is my will that you shall pay all your debts. And it is my will that you shall humble yourselves before me, and obtain this blessing by your diligence and humility and by the prayer of faith. And inasmuch as you are diligent and humble, and exercise the prayer of faith, behold, I will soften the hearts of those to whom you are in debt, until I shall send means unto you for your deliverance (D&C 104: 78 -80)
Section 111 Origin • Just as the Saints in Missouri were being forced from yet another county, Joseph and the Saints in Ohio finished the House of the Lord in Kirtland at great expense. The resulting blessings far surpassed the value of every penny, but the process left Joseph indebted around $13, 000 with more expenses looming. Under these circumstances Joseph took a risk. A Latter -day Saint surnamed Burgess convinced Joseph Smith that a large sum of money was buried in the cellar of a house in Salem, Massachusetts. Joseph, his brother Hyrum, Oliver Cowdery and Sidney Rigdon set out for Salem in July to meet Burgess and hopefully find the treasure. They searched in frustration for the house. On August 6, the Lord gave Section 111.
Section 111 Origin • Assistant Church Historian B. H. Roberts wrote that "while in Salem the Prophet received a revelation in which the folly of this journey is sharply reproved. " But Roberts was probably overly sensitive to the anti -Mormon emphasis on Joseph's youthful treasure seeking (see Joseph Smith—History 1: 55 -57). The Lord does not sharply reprove Joseph in Section 111. He says that he is not displeased with the prophet despite his follies, by which he meant "a weak or absurd act not highly criminal; an act which is inconsistent with the dictates of reason, or with the ordinary rules of prudence” (Webster’s 1828) – B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1: 410 -11.
• In several of the revelations that result from Joseph or other saints being in anxious, high-pressure situations, the Lord's responses seem cool and in control. Section 111 is like that. Joseph is overwhelmed with debt to the point of taking unsound risks. The Lord replies that he will gather Salem's treasures and souls for Zion in due time. And he gives Joseph and his companions assignments to redeem their time in Salem: make inspired contacts, seek out the place the Lord wants them to stay, and learn about Salem's early inhabitants. Joseph was concerned, anxious, eager to the point of making hasty, unwise decisions. In Section 111, the Lord’s response is soothing, reassuring, gentle, and patient.
Section 111 Outcomes • Section 111 reoriented Joseph and his companions. They sought out the place the Lord wanted them to stay, a house on Union Street not far from where Nathaniel Hawthorne was writing tales of buried treasure in Salem and the local newspaper was reporting similar rumors. They visited from house to house and did some preaching. On August 19 they visited the East India Marine Society Museum, comparatively relaxed in their efforts to obey the revelation and stop being too concerned with their debts and with things they could not control in Zion, and focus instead on souls both past and present.
Section 111 Outcomes • • These efforts led to some of the "treasures" the Lord mentioned in verse 10. Returning from another trip to Salem in 1841, Hyrum Smith met with Erastus Snow, gave him a copy of Section 111 and urged him to go there and harvest the "many people" the Lord promised to gather in due time (1). At great sacrifice to himself and his family, Elder Snow went. He and Benjamin Winchester started the harvest and others followed. In 1841 the Salem Gazette announced that "a very worthy and respectable laboring man, and his wife, were baptized by immersion in the Mormon Faith. " Six months later the Salem Register noted that "Mormonism is advancing with a perfect rush in this city. " The church has inquired into Salem's early inhabitants too. The early records of Salem and surrounding areas have been preserved and are accessible for genealogical research leading to the sacred ordinances of the House of the Lord. With Section 111, the Lord turned follies into treasures in his own due time.
We are now nearly as happy as we can be on earth. We have accomplished more than we had any reason to expect when we began. . Our beautiful house is finished, and the Lord has acknowledged it, by pouring out his Spirit upon us here, and revealing to us much of his will in regard to the work which he is about to perform. Furthermore, we have everything that is necessary to our comfort and convenience, and, judging from appearances, one would not suppose that anything could occur which would break up our friendship for each other, or disturb our tranquility. But, brethren, beware; for I tell you in the name of the Lord, that there is an evil in this very congregation, which, if not repented of, will result in setting many of you, who are here this day, so much at enmity against me, that you will have a desire to take my life; and you even would do it, if God should permit the deed. But, brethren, I now call upon you to repent, and cease all your hardness of heart, and turn from those principles of death and dishonesty which you are harboring in your bosoms, before it is eternally too late, for there is yet room for repentance.
The Kirtland Crisis • At this time, town property and real estate went up to almost fabulous prices, and a general rush was made into business of all kinds. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elders on missions hastened home, bringing merchandise and means for general trade, while the Kirtland Bank issued its paper apparently with full confidence in the future. Goods were sold upon credit with great hope of better times; and “Why be deprived of luxury and fashion today, ” seemed to be the spirit of the hour. But when goods bought on credit were to be paid for, and notes became due for lands bought at great prices, then began a reaction. Disappointment engendered feelings which reacted upon fellowship, and men in high places began to complain of and reproach each other, and brotherly love was found smothered by the love of the world. The Bank having issued its currency in the same confidence now began to comprehend that its specie vaults were empty, with no possibility to realize upon collateral to replenish them. The spirit of charity was not invoked, and brethren who had borne the highest priesthood and who had for years labored, traveled, ministered and suffered together, and even placed their lives upon the same altar, now were governed by a feeling of hate and a spirit to accuse each other, and all for the love of Accursed Mammon. All their former companionship in the holy anointing in the Temple of the Lord, where filled with the Holy Ghost, the heavens were opened, and in view of the glories before them they had together shouted “Hosanna to God and the Lamb, ” all was now forgotten by many, who were like Judas, ready to sell or destroy the Prophet Joseph and his followers. And it almost seemed to me that the brightest stars in our firmament had fallen. Many to whom I had in the past most loved to listen, their voices seemed now the most discordant and hateful to me. From the Quorum of the Twelve fell four of the brightest: William E. Mc. Lellin, Luke and Lyman Johnson and John [Boynton]; of the First Presidency, F. G. Williams; the three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris. Of other very prominent elders were Sylvester Smith, Warren Cowdery, Warren Parrish, Joseph Coe and many others who apostatized or became enemies to the Prophet. • Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review (Independence, MO: Zion’s Printing, 1947), 27– 29.
The Kirtland Safety Society • Major Growth in Kirtland • Founded in 1836 as a way to accommodate mercantile necessities in Kirtland • Re-founded in January 1837 as an “Anti. Banking Society” when they were refused license
The Kirtland Safety Society • • Foundational Problems National Banking Collapse JS pulls out in June Bank closes in November
Section 112 Origin • As apostasy swept through the Saints in Ohio in 1837, Thomas Marsh, president of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, tried to reconcile the disaffected members of his quorum and solidify plans for the apostles to undertake a mission to Great Britain under his leadership. Thomas had scheduled a July 24, 1837 meeting of the apostles in Kirtland. He arrived to find that Joseph had already called and sent apostles Heber Kimball and Orson Hyde to England. After consulting with quorum member Brigham Young, Thomas went to Joseph for counsel and reconciliation. In that meeting, Thomas wrote Section 112 as Joseph dictated. – Ronald K. Esplin, “The Emergence of Brigham Young, ” 287 -92. dissertation; Vilate Kimball to Heber C. Kimball, September 6, 1837, photocopy of original in private possession, Church History Library
My Dear husband • My Dear husband, once more I resume my pen to address you, who although far distant in body, yet you are ever present before my mind. I cannot empress to you the heart felt gatitude which swells this bosum of mine, while I reflect upon the goodness of God, not only to me in your absence, but also for the heart cheering intelligence we have received from you. . Elders Marsh and Patten were about to set of for Missouri, they all had the pleasure of hearing the letter read and rejoiced with us for your speedy and safe ariveal upon the shores of Europe. - I know not whare to begin to write, or what to say to you first, for the multitude of thoughts that rush upon my mind. you see I have filled a good part of my sheet with a Revelation which I thought would be more interesting to you than any thing I could write. I copyed it from Elder Marshs book as he wrote it from Josephs mouth he told me there was one thing made known to Joseph while he was receiveing it which he told him not to write; it was this, that the do<o>r of proclamation could not be affectually opened till elder Marsh should go or send some one whom he should ordain. . . (Vilate to Heber Kimball, 1837)
Section 112 Outcomes • Though he wrote the Lord's words as Joseph spoke them, Thomas Marsh heard Section 112 selectively. He took the revelation to Heber Kimball's wife Vilate and told her that Joseph had assured him that her husband would not be effective until Thomas said so. Heber and his companions enjoyed great success in the meanwhile and wrote back across the Atlantic their version of what Joseph had said, that "it was all right to prepare the way for brother Marsh. " • Thomas Marsh had an arrogance problem. He heard and self-servingly interpreted the passages of the revelation that reminded him of his high position, the greatness of his calling, his possession of powerful priesthood keys, and his impressive role in spreading the gospel to the nations. But he did not hear the revelation's command to be humble (10), to "exalt not yourselves, " or "rebel not against my servant Joseph" (15). – Vilate Kimball to Heber C. Kimball, September 6, 1837, photocopy of original in private possession; Heber C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, November 12, 1837; Thomas B. Marsh to Heber C. Kimball, May 5, 1857, all in Church History Library, Salt Lake City; Journal of Discourses, 3: 283 -84
Section 112 Outcomes • Thomas returned to his home in Missouri, as commanded in verse 6, and continued to serve as the church's publisher there. But by the fall of 1838 he had begun to exalt himself and rebel against Joseph. He famously repudiated the decisions of church councils to defend his wife in a domestic dispute with another sister. Then he signed an affidavit charging Joseph Smith with treason and leading to his incarceration. Thomas was subsequently excommunicated in March 1839 and remained estranged from the church for nearly two decades. • In May 1857 he wrote a humble letter to, of all people, Heber Kimball, then serving in the First Presidency. “I deserve no place among you in the church as the lowest member, ” Thomas confessed, “but I cannot live without a reconciliation with the 12 and the Church whom I have injured. ” In the same letter Marsh referred back to his apostolic commission affirmed in Section 112. “A mission was laid upon me & I have never filled it and now I fear it is too late but it is filled by another I see, the Lord could get along very well without me and He has lost nothing by my falling out of the ranks; But O what have I lost? ” – Vilate Kimball to Heber C. Kimball, September 6, 1837, photocopy of original in private possession; Heber C. Kimball to Vilate Kimball, November 12, 1837; Thomas B. Marsh to Heber C. Kimball, May 5, 1857, all in Church History Library, Salt Lake City; Journal of Discourses, 3: 283 -84
Kirtland in Shambles • Most of Joseph’s closest confidants turn on him • Saints allowed temporal concerns to overshadow spiritual matters • Lawsuits chase him at every corner • Following the command of an unpublished revelation, Joseph and Sidney Rigdon flee to Missouri
Humility in Adversity “I attended a meeting “on the flats, ” where “Joseph” presided. Entering the schoolhouse a little before meeting opened, and gazing upon the man of God, I perceived sadness in his countenance and tears trickling down his cheeks. I naturally supposed the all-absorbing topic of the difficulty must be the cause. I was not mistaken. A few moments later a hymn was sung and he opened the meeting by prayer. Instead, however, of facing the audience, he turned his back and bowed upon his knees, facing the wall. This, I suppose, was done to hide his sorrow and tears. “I had heard men and women pray…from the most ignorant, both as to letters and intellect, to the most learned and eloquent, but never until then had I heard a man address his Maker as though He was present listening as a kind father would listen to the sorrows of a dutiful child. Joseph was at that time unlearned, but that prayer, which was to a considerable extent in behalf of those who accused him of having gone astray and fallen into sin, that the Lord would forgive them and open their eyes that they might see aright—that prayer, I say, to my humble mind, partook of the learning and eloquence of heaven. There was no ostentation, no raising of the voice as by enthusiasm, but a plain conversational tone, as a man would address a present friend. It appeared to me as though, in case the veil were taken away, “I could see the Lord standing facing His humblest of all servants I had ever seen. Whether this was really the case I cannot say; but one thing I can say, it was the crowning, so to speak, of all the prayers I ever heard. ” -Daniel Tyler, “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith, ” Juvenile Instructor, February 15, 1892, 127– 28.