Come Follow Me with Casey Paul Griffiths (Doctrine and Covenants 111-114, October 4-10) – powered by Happy Scribe
There’s probably not a more dramatic shift in scene in the Doctrine Covenants than when you go from Section 110 in the Kirtland Temple to Section 111, which was received in Salem, Massachusetts, in section 110, Joseph to Smith and all of her country literally saw Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias, and Elijah in the Kurdan Temple. They received a witness that Jesus Christ was real and the priesthood keys necessary to govern the Church. But then flip the page and you’ll see that section 111 is received in Salem, Massachusetts, home of the famous Salem witch trials.
How did Joseph Smith go from being in Kirlin to dedicating the temple to being in Salem on some kind of wild goose chase? Well, we know a little bit about the background behind the story of section 111, and that is that there was a convert to the Church, a man by the name of Burgess, according to the history of the Church that told Joseph Smith that there was a house in Salem where there was treasure.
Now why would Joseph Smith leave Kirtland to go in search of treasure because of the condition of the Church at the time? The back story behind all the sections this week, sections 111, 112, 113 and One four are the troubles that happened in Kirtland after the temple had been dedicated, losing the lands in Missouri. The trip of Zion’s camp and building the Kirkland Temple had placed a severe financial strain on the Church, and part of the reason why Joseph Smith and several of his associates, including Oliver County and Sydney Ringdon, traveled to Salem, Massachusetts, was to try and find this treasure as a way of maybe relieving the debts that the Church was facing.
Joseph Smith and his trip to Kirline is chronicled by a source that we need to be a little bit cautious with that’s Ebony Or Robinson, who later left the Church. But there is a letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith while he was in Salem, where he talks about trying to get into the house but not being able to get in.
Forced to take another path, they sought direction from the Lord, and Section 111 was received the Lord in Section 111 of the Doctrine Covenants very carefully and tenderly rebukes them for going on the trip, but also tells them that there’s much to be gained now that they’re in Salem itself. The Lord told them in verse nine to inquire diligently concerning the more ancient inhabitants and founders of the city. And Joseph Smith and his associates spent three weeks in Salem learning about the history of the city it’s founded by the Puritans, its relationship to the American Revolution, and several other historical items.
They visited Bunker Hill, the site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolution. But probably the most moving moment to Joseph Smith was when they visited a Catholic school that had been burned down just a few years before because of religious persecution.
Local Protestants in the area who didn’t like Catholicism, had attacked and burned down this school, killing several people along the way. Joseph Smith looked over the burned and charred remains of the school and thought about religious persecution. He later wrote, when will man cease to war with man and rest from him his sacred right of worshiping his God, according as his conscience dictates, Holy Father hastened the day. Now, the treasure could also have been converted from this journey. On this particular trip, Joseph Smith and his friends didn’t convert anybody, but a few years later missionaries were sent to Salem, and over 100 people were converted to the Church.
And as we know, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Now if you turn to Section 112, this is where Joseph has to deal more directly with the problems that are happening in Kirtland. And the problems in this section center around a man named Thomas B. Marsh, who was the President of the corner of the Twelve Apostles. Thomas was the original President of the core of the Twelve Apostles.
In this dispensation, and if he had remained faithful, it’s likely that he, instead of Brigham Young, would have taken Joseph’s place when Joseph Smith was martyred in 1044. Instead of BYU, we could have had TMU because Thomas Marsh was supposed to lead the Church. But Thomas also had some problems. He was caught up in some problems that were happening in Kirtland surrounding the Curtin Safety Society, which was a bank that Joseph Smith and his fellow Church leaders set up to try and alleviate some of the church’s debt and also assist members of the Church in Kirlin to have funds to purchase farms and build homes.
The Kirtland Safety Society opened in the winter of 1837 and almost immediately ran into trouble.
People from outside of Kirkland tried to bankrupt the bank by turning in their bank notes and taking the money out. There was some corruption inside the bank. None of it linked to Joseph Smith, but some people that did the things that they weren’t supposed to do. And the bottom line was this bank that had been set up by the Church failed, and it caused a lot of people to question their faith in the Prophet. Thomas B.
Marsh was upset over the bank, but also because Joseph Smith had sent Apostles Hebrews, Kimball and Orson hide on a mission to England without his permission. And Thomas felt like as the President quorum, it was his job to do that. Section 112 tells Thomas remarked that the first presidency is in charge of everything, including the quorum of the twelve, and also counsels him in verse ten, be thou humble and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand and give the answer to thy prayers. Now the good news is that Thomas B.
Marsh repents at this time and does fulfill his calling and help Joseph regulate some of the problems in the Church.
The difficulty is about a year later, Thomas Femarsh did apostates from the Church. He moved to Missouri and in far west. He got involved in a number of problems. The most famous story linked to Thomas Femarsh’s apostasy has to do with the cream strippings where Thomas Marsh’s wife and another woman in the town had agreed to share the cream that floats to the top of the milk. Thomas B.
Marsh’s wife apparently took more than her share, and it turned into a controversy that worked its way through each of the corners of the Church. At one point, George J. Smith actually remembered Thomas Mursh being so upset and so angry that he said he would sustain the character of his wife, even if he had to go to hell for him. And he eventually did leave the Church, though he came back 20 years later after his wife had passed away, not just Thomas B. Marsh but other Apostles during this time apostates like Luke and Lyman Johnson, even Parliament P.
Pratt, one of the most stalwart and faithful members of the Church, one of the original missionaries of the Church, almost left as well. Now in Parliament’s defense, his health wasn’t doing too good at this time, and his wife, thankful Pratt had passed away in childbirth, which was emotionally devastating him but partly gave a pretty harsh speech criticizing Joseph Smith and other members of the twelve were speaking out against Joseph Smith as well. Carly was actually pulled back from the brink of apostasy by a little British convert that he had baptized about six months prior in Toronto, Canada.
This little British convert came to Kirland and heard Parley P. Prak criticizing Joseph Smith and then took him aside and said, I’m surprised to hear you speak.
So, Brother Parley, before you left Canada, you bore a strong testimony to Joseph being a Prophet of God and to the truth of the work he inaugurated. And you said you knew these things by revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Now, Brother Parley, it’s not man I’m following but the Lord. The principles you taught led me to him. And now I have the same testimony that you rejoiced in.
If the work was true six months ago, it’s true today, if Joseph was then a Prophet, he is now a Prophet. And parley because of this little English convert and other friends was convinced to come back to the Church and repent of his apostasy, you might have guessed that the little English convert’s name was John Taylor, who just a few months later was also made an Apostle and became the third President of Church. After Brigade Young passed away. There were other things that happened during the Curl and Apostasy, for instance, some people were convinced that David Whitmer, the state President of the Church in Missouri, should replace Joseph Smith, who was the state President of the Church in Ohio.
There was a meeting where David Whitmer was invited to take over his leadership of the Church, and it might have succeeded if Brigham Young hadn’t attended the meeting, Brigham Young remembered.
Years later I rose up and in a plain and forcible manner, told them that Joseph was a Prophet. I knew it, and they might rail and slander him as much as they pleased. They could not destroy the appointment of the Prophet of God. They could only destroy their own authority, cut the thread that bound them to the Prophet and to God, and sink themselves to help with this apostasy was so severe that during the curtilan apostasy we lost almost half of the members of the Corinthii, a member of the First Presidency, Frederick G.
Williams was removed, and the seeds were sown for the three witnesses, Oliver Tawdry, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris.
They’ll also leave the Church later on, Brigham Young said this was a crisis when Earth and hell seemed League to overthrow the Prophet in the Church of God. And the needs of many of the strongest men in the Church altered. Eventually, in January of 1838, Joseph was forced to flee Kirland for far West Missouri, and he gathered with the Saints there. Now the very first section that’s received in far West Missouri is Doctrine Covenant 13, which is really just a simple revelation that answered several questions about the Scriptures, particularly the Book of Isaiah.
These answers, it appears, may have been calculated to sort of lift up Joseph Smith in a time when he may have been a little discouraged about his prophetic mission.
It starts out by telling us or asking the question, who is the stem of Jesse spoken of in the first, 2nd, 3rd, fourth, and fifth verses of the 11th chapter of Isaiah. The answer the Lord gave us is that the stem is Christ. Now, in some biblical translations, instead of stem, it’s more like stump. And you might be asking, Why is Jesus Christ represented by a stump? A stump is a dead tree, right?
Well, the idea was that the house of Israel or the Royal house of Israel, the house of Jesse, where the Kings came from, was basically a dead stump. By the time Jesus Christ came on the scene, but Jesus as the true King, not only of Israel, but also all the world. The Messiah that was sent to save us showed that a dead stump like Israel appeared to be in Jesus’time could become a living tree again. The second questions asked were, what are the rods spoken of? And the root of Jesse spoken of in the 11th chapter of Isaiah.
Rod could also be translated as sprout. It’s like a new branch coming out of that dead stump and the root. You know what a root is goes down into the Earth. The Lord both times identifies both the Rod and the root as a servant in the hands of Christ, not Jesus Christ himself, but someone who’s partly a descendant of Jesse, as well as of Ephraim, or of the house of Joseph, on whom there is laid much power. He says that the root is someone who is a descendant of Jesse, as well as Joseph, and to whom rightly belongs to the priesthood and the keys of the Kingdom for an Ensign and for the gathering of my people in the last days.
Now we don’t have an absolute answer as to who the Rod and the root are. But the most likely answer is that it’s Joseph. Joseph Smith was a descendant of Ephraim and was told early on in the Doctrine Covenants in Section 86 that he had a right to the priest. It’s possible that the revelatory answers to these questions were the Lord’s way of telling Joseph Smith he was still called and chosen. In spite of all the problems that had circulated in Kirlin, with the bank and with the apostasy and everything that had occurred.
It wasn’t just Joseph Smith that received a measure of redemption when he arrived in Missouri two. The next section of the Doctrine Covenants talks about one of the unsung heroes of the Restoration. And that is Apostle David W. Patton. Now remember Thomas Fu.
Marsh was the President of the corner of the Twelve. But since all the Apostles were called at the same time in 1835, they couldn’t go by seniority like we do today. So instead they went by age because Thomas B. Marsh was the oldest member of the quorum. He was made the press on the quorum, and seniority went down through the quorum by age.
Now we actually found out that Thomas B. Marsh misremembered his birthday. It wasn’t that uncommon for people to do that back then, but Marsh remembered that he was born in 1799, when the records we can find identified that he was actually born in 1800. That means that if they had known everything, David Patton would have actually been President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. David Patton was a wonderful missionary and teacher, but he, too, got a little caught up in some of the bad feelings that happened in Curtin surrounding the Curl and Safety Society.
David Patton, however, repented and stayed in the Church when he arrived in Far West. He was known as Captain Fear, not because he wasn’t afraid of anybody or anything except the Lord, and he did everything he could to try and defend the Saints. In fact, a few months after this revelation was given, David Patton led a group of Mormon militia at the Battle of Crooked River to rescue some hostages that had been captured by the Missouri mob. Unfortunately, David Patton was hit in the middle of this battle and killed.
A story told about David Patton was that he told Joseph Smith he wished to die a martyr for the cause.
And Joseph Smith sadly remarked, David, when a man like you, a man of your faith asks for something from the Lord. He usually gets it. David died at the Battle of Crooked River and at his funeral the next day, Joseph said, There lies a man who has done what he said he would. He has laid down his life for his friends. So whether this is a story about Thomas B.
Marsh, who left the Church and eventually came back, David Patton, who flirted with leaving the Church but stayed and became a martyr, or Joseph Smith, who may have temporarily lost faith in himself. Remember, the Lord has a purpose for you when it comes to apostasy. Sometimes it feels like it’s ruled all around us at all times. And then everybody’s faltering in their testimony. But it’s never been about the other people.
It’s about you and your faith in Jesus Christ in the Restoration and his prophets. If you hold fast and hold on, you’ll be the sort of person that’s honored for your testimony. And if you mess up a little bit, you can also repent and come back. David Patton, Thomas B. Marsh and Joseph Smith all learn that the Lord knew who they were and that he had some something special plan for each of them.
They only had the whole faster. What they knew was true and stay in the Church.