Discourse, 19 December 1841, as Reported by Wilford Woodruff
JS, Discourse, [, Hancock Co., IL, 19 Dec. 1841]. Featured version copied [ca. 19 Dec. 1841] in Wilford Woodruff, Journal, vol. 4, 1 Jan. 1841–31 Dec. 1842, pp. –; handwriting of ; Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for Discourse, 7 Nov. 1841.
On the evening of Sunday, 19 December 1841, JS delivered a discourse at his home in , Illinois, on revelation and several other subjects. , who was present on the occasion, recorded summaries and excerpts of JS’s teachings in his journal. Though Woodruff did not comment on the length of JS’s discourse, he noted that JS spoke after sermons by and and that JS was followed by , who briefly commented on the importance of building a in Nauvoo.
According to , JS read and explained the parable of the vine in John chapter 15 and then addressed a variety of other topics, most notably revelation, chastisement, and instruction from God. JS was apparently responding to the concern of some church members that he was a fallen prophet either because he delivered revelation less frequently than in times past or because he provided revelation containing direction that differed from earlier revealed instruction. JS may have been countering these criticisms by teaching the need for continuing revelation and for humility in accepting chastisement and new direction from God. JS also addressed the importance of being able to keep secrets and spoke about love.
mainly paraphrased the content of the sermon, but he enclosed various phrases within quotation marks, indicating his attempt to capture some of JS’s exact words. Woodruff also recorded an account of this discourse in his “Book of Revelations,” likely around the same time. It is possible that both texts were copied from earlier notes he made on the occasion. However, the expanded version from his journal, featured here, likely served as the original source for the more abbreviated version in his Book of Revelations. The two instances of significant textual difference are identified in footnotes below.
Roberts was a church member living on the bluff near the Nauvootemple construction site, having moved to Nauvoo in fall 1841. He was a blacksmith, carpenter, and wagonmaker with a shop on Water and Bain streets. (Nauvoo, IL, Tax List, 1842, p. 232, microfilm 7,760, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; Woodruff, Journal, 29 Sept. 1841; Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, 3:2613; Miller, Westward Migration of the Mormons with Special Emphasis on the History of Nauvoo, 307, 325; Advertisement, Nauvoo Neighbor, 8 Nov. 1843, .)
U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.
Woodruff, Wilford. Journals, 1833–1898. Wilford Woodruff, Journals and Papers, 1828–1898. CHL. MS 1352.
Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude. 4 vols. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1998.
Miller, David E. Westward Migration of the Mormons with Special Emphasis on the History of Nauvoo. Salt Lake City: University of Utah, 1963.
Joseph the Seer arose & read a chapter in the New Testiment containing the parable of the vine & its branches & explained it much to our edification & said “if we kept the commandments of God we should bring forth fruit & be the friends of God & know what our Lord did, “Some say Joseph is a fallen Prophet because he does not bring forth more of the word of the Lord” “Why does he not do it” are we able to receive it No (says he) not one in this room, He then chastized us for our wickedness & unbelief knowing that whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth & scourgeth evry son & daughter whom He receiveth & if we do not receive chastizements then are we Bastards & not Sons. On Revelation He said “A man would command his son to dig potatoes, saddle his horse but before he had done either tell him to do somthing els, this is all consider[ed] right “But as soon as the Lord gives a commandment & revokes that decree & commands somthing els then the prophet is considerd fallen &c” Because we will not receive chastizment at the hand of the Prophet & the Lord chastizeth us with sickness & death “Let not any man publish his own righteousness for others can do that for him.” sooner let him confess his sins & then he will be forgiven & he will bring forth more fruit [p. ]
At this point the Book of Revelations version includes the following line: “& he would reveal his secrets unto us but his servent knew not what his Lord doeth.” (Woodruff, “Book of Revelations,” –.)
Woodruff, Wilford. “Book of Revelations,” ca. 1837–1860. CHL.