Articles and Covenants, circa April 1830 [D&C 20]

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

The of the agreeable to the will and of God. The rise of the Church of Christ in these last days, being 1830 years since the coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the flesh, it being regularly organized and established agreeable to the laws of our country, by the will and commandments of God, in the 4th month, and on the 6th day of the same, which commandments were given to Joseph Smith, jun. who was called of God and an of Jesus Christ, an of the church, and also to , who was also called of God an apostle of Jesus Christ, an elder of the church, and ordained under his hand, and this according to the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be all glory both now and ever—amen.
For after that it truly was manifested unto the first elder that he had received remission of his sins, he was entangled again in the vanities of the world, but after truly repenting, God visited him by an holy angel, whose countenance was as lightning, and whose garments were pure and white above all whiteness, and gave unto him commandments which inspired him from on high, and gave unto him power, by the means of which was before prepared that he should a book; which book contains a record of a fallen people, and also the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the and also to the Jews, proving unto them that the holy be true, and also that God doth inspire men and call them to his holy work in these last days, as well as in days of old, that he may be the same God forever—amen.
Which book, given by inspiration, is called the Book of Mormon, and is confirmed to others by the ministering of angels, and declared unto the world by them. Wherefore, having so great witnesses, by them shall the world be judged, even as many as shall hereafter receive this work, either to faith and righteousness, or to the hardness of heart in unbelief to their own condemnation. For the Lord God hath spoken it, for we elders of the church have heard and bear record to the words of the glorious Majesty on high, to whom be glory forever and ever—Amen. Wherefore, by these things, we know that there is a God in heaven, who is infinite and eternal, from everlasting to everlasting the same unchangeable God. the Maker of heaven and earth, and all things that in them is, and that he is all power, and all wisdom, and all understanding, and that he created man male and female after his own image and in his own likeness created he them, and that he gave unto the children of men a commandment that they should love and serve him the only being whom they should worship; but by the transgression of these holy laws, men became sensual and devlish, and became fallen man—wherefore the Almighty God gave his only begotten Son, as is written in those scriptures which hath been given of him, that he suffered temptations but gave no heed unto them, that he was crucified and died and rose again the third day, and that he ascended into heaven to sit down on the right hand of the Father, to reign with almighty power according to the will of the Father, that as many as would believe and were into his holy name and endured in faith to the end should be saved; yea, even as many as were before he came in the flesh, from the beginning, which believed in the words of the holy prophets, which were inspired by the , which truly testified of him in all things, as well they which should come after, which should believe in the gifts and calling of God by the Holy Ghost which beareth record of the Father and of the Son, which Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one God, infinite and eternal, without end.— Amen.
And we know that all men must repent and believe on the name of Jesus Christ, and worship the Father in his name, and endure in faith on his name to the end, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of God. And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is just and true. And we also know that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is just and true to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. But there is a possibility that men may fall from grace, and depart from the living God, therefore let the church take heed, and pray always, lest they enter into temptations; yea, and he that is sanctified also. And we know that these things are true and agreeable to the revelations of Jesus Christ which was signified by his angel unto John, neither adding nor diminishing to the prophecy of his book; neither to the holy scriptures; neither to the revelations of God which shall come hereafter by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, neither by the voice of God, neither by the ministering of angels. And the Lord God hath spoken it—and honor, power, and glory be rendered to his holy name both now and ever.—Amen.
And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism, behold whosoever humbleth himself before God and desireth to be baptized, and comes forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnesseth unto the church that they truly repent of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him unto the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received the gift of Christ unto the remission of their sins, then shall they be received unto baptism into the church of Christ.
The duty of Elders, , , and , and members of the church of Christ:—An apostle is an elder, and it is his calling to baptize and to ordain other elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, and to according to the scriptures, and to teach, expound, and exhort, and to baptize and to watch over the church, and to the church by the laying on of hands and the giving of the Holy Ghost, and to take the lead of all meetings, &c.
The elders are to conduct the meetings as they are led by the Holy Ghost.
The priests’ duty is to preach, teach, expound, and exhort, and baptize, and administer the sacrament, and visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret, and also to attend to all family duties, to ordain priests, teachers, and deacons, and to take the lead in meetings; but none of these offices is he to do when there is an elder present, but in all cases is to assist the elder, &c. The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with them and strengthen them, and see that there is no iniquity in the church, nor no hardness with each other, nor no lying nor backbiting, nor no evil speaking; and see that the church meets together oft, and also see that every member does his duty, and he is to take the lead of the meetings in the absence of the elder or priest, and is to be assisted always and all his duties in the church by the deacons. But neither the teacher nor the deacon has authority to baptize nor administer the sacrament; but are to warn, exhort, expound and teach and invite all to come to Christ. Every elder, priest, teacher, or deacon, is to be ordained according to the gifts and calling of God unto them by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is in the one who ordains them. The several elders composing the church of Christ are to meet at each of its meetings to do church business, whatsoever is necessary, &c. and each priest or teacher who is ordained by any priest is to take a certificate from him at the time, which, when shown to an elder, he is to give him a , which shall authorize him to perform the duty of his calling. The duty of the church members after they are received by baptism:—The elders or priests are to have a sufficient time to expound all things concerning this church of Christ to their understanding previous to their partaking of the sacrament, and being confirmed by the laying on of the hands of the elders, so that all things shall be done in order; and the members shall manifest before the church and before the elders a godly walk and conversation that they are worthy of it, that there may be works and faith agreeable to the holy scriptures, walking in holiness before the Lord. Every member of this church of Christ having children, are to bring them unto the elders before the church who are to lay hands on them in the name of the Lord, and bless them in the name of Christ. There cannot any one be received into this church of Christ who have not arrived to the years of accountability before God, and are not capable of repentance. And the manner of baptism & the manner of administering the sacrament are to be done as is written in the Book of Morman. Any member of this church of Christ transgressing, or being overtaken in a fault, shall be dealt with according as the scriptures direct, &c It shall be the duty of the several churches composing this church of Christ to send one of their priests or teachers to attend the several conferences held by the elders of the church with a list of the names the several persons uniting themselves to the church since the last , or send by the hand of some elder, so that there can be kept a regular list of all the names of the members of the whole church in a book kept by one of the elders whomsoever the other elders shall appoint from time to time, end [and] also if any have been expelled from the church so that their names may be blotted out of the general church record of names; any member removing from the church where he belongs, if going to a church where he is not known, may take letter certifying that he is a member and in good standing, which certificate may be signed by any elder or priest—if the person receiving the letter is personally acquainted with the elder or priest; or may be signed by the teachers or deacons of his church. [p. [4]]

Footnotes

  1. 1

    This first sentence does not appear in any other early version of Articles and Covenants. It is possible that this was the title written on Harris’s copy of the document and that the Painesville Telegraph incorporated it as part of the body text.  

  2. 2

    Revelation Book 1 presents the year in prose rather than a numeral: “one Thousand eight Hundred & thirty years.” It is likely that the use of the numeric year was an editorial convention of the Painesville Telegraph either to provide clarity or save space. (Revelation Book 1, p. 53 [D&C 20:1].)  

  3. 3

    See An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Religious Societies [5 Apr. 1813], Laws of the State of New-York (1813), vol. 2, pp. 212–219. Actions taken at the time of organization may have been in response to this act’s requirements.  

    Laws of the State of New-York, Revised and Passed at the Thirty-Sixth Session of the Legislature, With Marginal Notes and References. 2 Vols. Albany: H. C. Southwick and Company, 1813.

  4. 4

    Other early versions of Articles and Covenants have “Joseph the seer.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 53; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 20:2].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

  5. 5

    Instead of “the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,” Revelation Book 1 has “the grace of our Lord & saveiour Jesus Christ.” All early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 53 [D&C 20:4].)  

  6. 6

    In his circa summer 1832 history, JS described an experience he had as a young man in which “the Lord opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lord and he spake unto me saying Joseph my son thy sins are forgiven thee. go thy way walk in my statutes and keep my commandments.” (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3.)  

  7. 7

    Instead of “visited him,” Revelation Book 1 has “ministered unto him.” Symonds Rider’s copy and Orson Hyde’s copy match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 53; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL; Hyde and Smith, Notebook, [3] [D&C 20:6].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

    Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.

  8. 8

    JS’s history provided this detailed description of the angel’s appearance: “I discovered a light appearing in the room which continued to increase untill the room was lighter than at noonday when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside standing in the air for his feet did not touch the floor. He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness. . . . Not only was his robe exceedingly white but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning. The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person.” The account also reported the message delivered by the angel. (JS History, vol. A-1, 5.)  

  9. 9

    Three of JS’s supporters said they were shown the plates by an angel in June 1829. Their public witness to that effect was published with the Book of Mormon. (Testimony of Three Witnesses, Late June 1829; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, June 1829–E [D&C 17].)  

  10. 10

    Instead of “bear record,” Revelation Book 1 has “bear witness.” All early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 53 [D&C 20:16].)  

  11. 11

    The phrase “and that he is all power, and all wisdom, and all understanding” is not found in any of the other early copies of Articles and Covenants. However, the manuscript version in Sidney Gilbert’s revelation collection has a variant: “& that he has all power & all wisdom & all understanding.” (Gilbert, Notebook, [3] [D&C 20:17], italics added.)  

    Gilbert, Algernon Sidney. Notebook of Revelations, 1831–ca. 1833. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.

  12. 12

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 186 [Mosiah 15:2–4].  

  13. 13

    The phrase “the grace of” is not found in Symonds Rider’s copy of Articles and Covenants. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 20:30].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

  14. 14

    Instead of “they enter,” Revelation Book 1 has “ye fall.” Symonds Rider’s copy also has “ye fall”; the only other early copy with “enter” is Orson Hyde’s copy. (Revelation Book 1, p. 55; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL; Hyde and Smith, Notebook, [5] [D&C 20:33].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

    Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.

  15. 15

    Symonds Rider’s copy has “these things are just and true.” (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 20:35].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

  16. 16

    Instead of “agreeable to the revelations of Jesus Christ which was signified by his angel unto John, neither adding nor diminishing to the prophecy of his book,” Revelation Book 1 reads, “agreeable to the Revelations of John neither ading nor diminishing to the Holy Scriptures Prophecy of his Book.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 55 [D&C 20:35].)  

  17. 17

    Instead of “they truly repent,” Revelation Book 1 has “they have truly Repented.” Most other versions match Revelation Book 1; the only early manuscript copy with “they truly repent” is Orson Hyde’s copy. (Revelation Book 1, p. 55; Hyde and Smith, Notebook, [6] [D&C 20:37].)  

    Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.

  18. 18

    Revelation Book 1 has “spirit.” The other early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1, except Symonds Rider’s copy, which has “received the Spirit unto the remission of their sins.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 55; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL [D&C 20:37].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

  19. 19

    In this paragraph, Articles and Covenants added an additional requirement to the qualifications for baptism mentioned in the Book of Mormon: “and truly manifest by their works that they have received the gift of Christ unto the remission of their sins.” This led to the disagreement between JS and Oliver Cowdery discussed in the historical introduction to this document. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 576 [Moroni 6:1–3]; JS History, vol. A-1, 50–51; see also Historical Introduction to Minutes, 26 Sept. 1830.)  

  20. 20

    The way church members understood the relationship between the terms apostle and elder at this time is unclear. In the earliest years, the term apostle was often applied to elders involved in missionary activities. Jared Carter, for instance, wrote in his journal after being ordained an elder, “I now commence to give some short sketches of a mision that I performed from ohio to vermont after I had been to Kirkland where I received the authority of an apostle [and] commenced a mision to the east the 22nd day of Sept 1831 with Brother Ebenezer Page.” (Carter, Journal, 35; see also Historical Introduction to License for John Whitmer, 9 June 1830.)  

    Carter, Gideon Hayden. Journal, Apr.–Dec. 1832. CHL. MS 1732.

  21. 21

    Instead of “to ordain priests,” Revelation Book 1 has “& ordain other Priests.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 55 [D&C 20:48].)  

  22. 22

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 575 [Moroni 3:4]. By 9 June 1830, at the conference during which Articles and Covenants was presented and approved by the congregation, elders, priests, and teachers had apparently already been ordained, meaning that the offices outlined above were in operation prior to the formal acceptance of the document. Deacons, however, are not mentioned in any church records until the 25 October 1831 conference minutes; unlike the other offices mentioned, there are no extant 1830 ordination certificates or licenses for deacons. Nonetheless, every manuscript version of Articles and Covenants includes the explanation of the office of deacon and its duties. (Minutes, 9 June 1830; Minute Book 2, 25–26 Oct. 1831.)  

  23. 23

    Revelation Book 1 indicates specifically how often these meetings were to be held: “The several elders composing this Church of Christ are to meet in conference once in three Month to [do] Church business whatsoever is nessessary &c.” Symonds Rider’s copy and Orson Hyde’s copy match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 56; Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Revelations Collection, CHL; Hyde and Smith, Notebook, [8] [D&C 20:61–62].)  

    Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583.

    Hyde, Orson, and Samuel Smith. Notebook of Revelations and Missionary Memoranda, ca. Oct. 1831–ca. Jan. 1832. Revelations Collection, 1831–ca. 1844, 1847, 1861, ca. 1876. CHL. MS 4583, box 1, fd. 2.

  24. 24

    For the earliest extant examples of ministerial licenses, see the following: License for John Whitmer, License for Joseph Smith Sr., and License for Christian Whitmer, 9 June 1830.  

  25. 25

    Instead of “church members,” Revelation Book 1 has only “members.” (Revelation Book 1, p. 56 [D&C 20:68].)  

  26. 26

    The link between participation in the Lord’s Supper and confirmation in the Church of Christ is suggested by the experiences of Emma Smith and Sarah Coburn Knight. JS’s history recorded that during a visit JS and Emma received from Newel and Sarah Knight in Harmony, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1830, “as neither his wife nor mine had been as yet confirmed, it was proposed that we should confirm them, and partake together of the sacrament, before he and his wife should leave us.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 51.)  

  27. 27

    Revelation Book 1 is more expansive at this point, including excerpts from the Book of Mormon to provide the language to be used in the ordinances: “And the way of Baptism is to be ministered in the following manner unto all those who Repent whosoever being called of God & having authority given them of Jesus Christ shall go down into the water with them & shall say calling them by name having authority given me of Jesus Christ I baptize thee in the name of Jesus Christ the Father & of the Son & of the Holy Ghost amen then Shall he immerse them in the water & come forth again out of the water And it is expedient that the Church meet together oft to partake bread & wine in Rememberance of the Lord Jesus & the Elder or Priest shall minister it & after this manner shall he do he shall kneel with the Church & call upon the Father in mighty prayer saying O God the Eternal Father we ask thee in the name of thy son Jesus Christ to Bless & sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it that they may eat in Rememberance of the body of thy son & witness unto thee O God the Eternal Father that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy son & always Remember him & keep his commandments which he hath given them that they may always have his spirit to be with them amen[.]  

    “The manner of administering the wine Behold they shall take the cup & say O God the Eternal Father we ask thee in the name of thy Son Jesus Christ to bless & sanctify this wine to the souls of all <​those​> who drink of it that they do it in Rememberance of the blood of thy Son which was shed for them that they may witness unto thee O God the Eternal Father that they do always Remember him that they may have his spirit to be with them amen[.]”a  

    The other earliest manuscript versions match Revelation Book 1, but a version of Articles and Covenants copied by John Whitmer into Zebedee Coltrin’s journal similarly pointed to the Book of Mormon rather than including the text from it.a  

    Coltrin, Zebedee. Diaries, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 1443.

    (aRevelation Book 1, p. 57 [D&C 20:72–79]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 478, 575–576 [3 Nephi 11:23–26; Moroni 4–5].bColtrin, Diary, [6], [9].)
  28. 28

    See Galatians 6:1.  

  29. 29

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 210–211 [Mosiah 26:21–32]; and Matthew 18:15–17.  

  30. 30

    Instead of “one of their priests or teachers,” Revelation Book 1 has “one or more of their Teachers.” The other early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 58 [D&C 20:81].)  

  31. 31

    Revelation Book 1 has “members.” The other early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 58 [D&C 20:82].)  

  32. 32

    Revelation Book 1 has “Priest.” The other early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 58 [D&C 20:82].)  

  33. 33

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 576 [Moroni 6:7–8].  

  34. 34

    Revelation Book 1 has “member.” The other early manuscript copies match Revelation Book 1. (Revelation Book 1, p. 58 [D&C 20:84].)  

  35. 35

    At this point the text of Articles and Covenants ends, but the article in the Painesville Telegraph continues uninterrupted with versions of Revelation, 16 April 1830 [D&C 22], and Revelation, circa August 1830 [D&C 27], as though they were all part of the same document.