Discourse, December 1840, as Reported by William Clayton
JS, Discourse, [, Hancock Co., IL], Dec. 1840. Featured version from report copied  in L. John Nuttall, Notebook, p. 3; handwriting of L. John Nuttall; L. John Nuttall, Papers, BYU.L. John Nuttall, Notebook, 1880; handwriting of L. John Nuttall; thirty-two pages, L. John Nuttall, Papers, BYU.Small leather-bound notebook with text block formed from twelve gatherings, most with twelve leaves each. Each page was printed with twenty-six blue lines. The book contains unlined, white endpapers and white pastedowns at both the front and back. The pages have been trimmed and measure 7½ × 4¾ inches (19 × 12 cm). Stamped pagination runs continuously through 240 pages. The gatherings were sewn all along, and a headband was sewn onto the text block. The front and back boards and spine—which has four false raised bands demarcating five panels—are covered with red leather. The front and back covers, as well as the raised bands on the spine, are outlined with gold borders. The front cover has “Records” debossed in gold leaf in the center. The bound volume measures 7¾ × 5⅛ inches (20 × 13 cm).Nuttall inscribed “L. John Nuttall | his Book | 1880” on the front pastedown, apparently at the same time he inscribed all of the text in the book. The first thirty-two pages were inscribed by Nuttall, and the remainder of the book is blank. A header centered at the top of the first page reads “Extracts | from Wm Clayton’s <(Private)> Book”.This notebook, along with Nuttall’s other papers, passed from Nuttall to his daughter Clara Cardston Nuttall Giles. Her husband, Joseph G. Giles, passed the collection to their son, and the collection remained in the family until it was transferred to Brigham Young University in 1960.
Sometime in December 1840, JS delivered a discourse on a method for discerning types of spirits and angels. Little information is known about this discourse. The only known account is the one featured here, inscribed by L. John Nuttall in the opening pages of his 1880 notebook. He copied the sermon—along with other discourses—from a source he called “’s Private Book.” Clayton arrived in at the end of November 1840, and he may have recorded his account around the time JS gave the discourse. To what extent Nuttall accurately or comprehensively captured Clayton’s earlier notes of this discourse is unclear. The surviving text does not indicate whom JS addressed, when in December he delivered the sermon, or how long he spoke. However, the reported content of the discourse matched instructions that JS gave repeatedly during the final years of his life. On 27 June 1839, he taught the about the same key to discerning good versus evil spirits and repeated the instruction almost verbatim to a small gathering on 9 February 1843.