Discourse, 1 May 1842, as Reported by Willard Richards
JS, Discourse, , Hancock Co., IL, 1 May 1842. Featured version copied [ca. 1 May 1842] in JS, Journal, Dec. 1841–Dec. 1842, in Book of the Law of the Lord, p. 94; handwriting of ; CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Revelation, 19 Jan. 1841 [D&C 124].
On 1 May 1842 in , Illinois, JS delivered a discourse on the doctrine of the of the kingdom, which he described as “certain signs & words” that could be used to distinguish “false spirits & personages” from messengers sent by God. JS taught that the keys must be received in the and stressed the need to complete its construction for that purpose.On prior occasions, JS taught that the keys of the kingdom could be used to detect false spirits. In a June 1839 meeting, he presented the with one of the “many keys to the kingdom of God,” instructing them to use a handshake to distinguish among Satan, disembodied beings, and embodied angels of God. In April 1842, while JS served as editor of the Times and Seasons, an article titled “Try the Spirits” was printed, providing similar direction on discerning spirits and “the signs by which they may be known.” The editorial, which was likely written by JS, explained that knowledge and use of the signs required “the , and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed.” Later that month, in a 28 April meeting of the , JS explained that “the church is not now organiz’d in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.” He went on to inform the assembled women “that the keys of the kingdom [were] about to be given to them, that they may be able to detect every thing false— as well as to the .” JS seemed to be suggesting that completing the temple, then under construction in , was a prerequisite to receiving the keys. A few days later, on Sunday, 1 May, JS described these keys as physical signs to discern “false” from “true” spirits and again said they could be received only after the temple was completed.JS delivered the discourse featured here in the on the west side of the temple construction site. inscribed the content of this discourse into JS’s journal, which was being kept in the Book of the Law of the Lord, probably on or shortly after 1 May 1842. Richards may have reconstructed the content of the sermon from notes taken at the time of the discourse. , who recently had been excommunicated from the church, attended the 1 May meeting and also recorded JS’s discourse, which Olney described as being about “the key word of Gods power” and “being endowed / With power from on High.” Although sarcastic in tone, his account includes much of the same content as Richards’s account.