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Book of Commandments, 1833

should proclaim these things unto the world, and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets: The weak things of the world should come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones: that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh, but that every man might speak in the name of God, the Lord, even the Savior of the world; that faith also might increase in the earth; that mine everlasting covenant might be established; that the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple, unto the ends of the world; and before kings and rulers.
5 Behold I am God and have spoken it: these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding; and inasmuch as they erred, it might be made known: and inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they might be instructed; and inasmuch as they sinned, they might be chastened, that they might repent; and inasmuch as they were humble, they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time: after they, having received the record of the Nephites; yea, even my servant Joseph might have power to translate through the mercy of God, by the power of God, the book of Mormon: And also, those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I the Lord am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually, for I the Lord can not look upon sin [p. 5]
should proclaim these things unto the world, and  all this that it might be fulfilled, which was  written by the prophets: The weak things of the  world should come forth and break down the migh ty and strong ones: that man should not counsel  his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh, but  that every man might speak in the name of God,  the Lord, even the Savior of the world; that faith  also might increase in the earth; that mine everlas ting covenant might be established; that the fulness  of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and  the simple, unto the ends of the world; and before  kings and rulers.
5 Behold I am God and have spoken it: these  commandments are of me, and were given unto my  servants in their weakness, after the manner of their  language, that they might come to understanding;  and inasmuch as they erred, it might be made  known: and inasmuch as they sought wisdom, they  might be instructed; and inasmuch as they sinned,  they might be chastened, that they might repent;  and inasmuch as they were humble, they might be  made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive  knowledge from time to time: after they, having  received the record of the Nephites; yea, even my  servant Joseph might have power to translate  through the mercy of God, by the power of God,  the book of Mormon: And also, those to whom  these commandments were given, might have pow er to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring  it forth out of obscurity, and out of darkness, the  only true and living church upon the face of the  whole earth, with which I the Lord am well pleas ed, speaking unto the church collectively and not  individually, for I the Lord can not look upon sin [p. 5]
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A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ, Organized according to Law, on the 6th of April, 1830; Zion [Independence

Located twelve miles from western Missouri border. Permanently settled, platted, and designated county seat, 1827. Hub for steamboat travel on Missouri River. Point of departure for Santa Fe Trail. Population in 1831 about 300. Mormon population by summer...

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], MO: W. W. Phelps & Co., 1833; incomplete (printing interrupted); [1]–160 pp.; includes typeset signature marks and copyright notice. The copy presented herein is held at CHL; includes twenty-two pages of handwritten texts; also includes early and later marginalia as well as archival stamps and notations.
This book was printed in sextodecimo format on five sheets. The sheets were probably printed using a work-and-turn technique, yielding two copies of the same gathering for each sheet. The sheets were folded into five gatherings of sixteen leaves each, making a text block of 160 pages. In the copy of the book featured herein, three nonprinted gatherings were also bound with the printed gatherings: two folio gatherings of two leaves each, and an octavo gathering of eight leaves, which includes the back pastedown. The pages of the book featured herein measure 4½ × 3⅛ inches (11 × 8 cm), but these dimensions vary somewhat in other extant copies of the volume. The book’s final printed gathering ends on page 160, partway through the revelation labeled “CHAPTER LXV.” That at least one more gathering was intended is evident from several sources, including editing marks made in Revelation Book 1, which was the source text for much of the Book of Commandments.1

See “Proposed Sixth Gathering of the Book of Commandments;” see also Phelps, “Short History,” [3]; and Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to John Murdock, 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 61–62.  


Changes made during printing resulted in variations among known copies of the Book of Commandments, the most obvious of which are the differences found on the title page.2

The title page of the Book of Commandments appears in two different formats, the first without a decorative border. Sometime during the printing, a border was inserted, forcing the compositor to compress the spaces between and within the lines of text. For photographs of the two iterations, see JSP, R2:13, 600. A systematic analysis of printing variants among extant copies of the Book of Commandments is beyond the scope of this edition.  


Because destruction of the print shop halted printing and destroyed most of the stock before any books were bound, the bindings of the surviving copies vary. The copy presented herein, which belonged to early church member and leader Wilford Woodruff

1 Mar. 1807–2 Sept. 1898. Farmer, miller. Born at Farmington, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson. Moved to Richland, Oswego Co., New York, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Zera Pulsipher, 31 Dec. 1833, near Richland. Ordained...

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, measures 4½ × 3¼ × ⅞ inches (11 × 8 × 2 cm). The cover is made from heavy paperboard material and bound in brown leather, which is now worn. In both the material and the manner of binding, the binding is similar to that of Woodruff’s first journal, which was begun sometime in late 1834, suggesting both books were bound at the same time.3

Wilford Woodruff , Journal, 1834–1838, Wilford Woodruff , Journals and Papers, CHL.  


The thread used in sewing the volume is visible along the spine of the book. A slip of blue-lined paper, measuring 1⅞ × 2⅛ inches (5 × 5 cm), is pasted to the outside front cover of this copy of the Book of Commandments. “No. 1” is written in red ink on this label, and an additional notation, reading “Book of Commandments”, is written in graphite. On the inside front cover, a notation written in black ink in Thomas Bullock’s handwriting reads “Presented to the | Historian’s Office | by Wilford Woodruff | July 19 [18]54”. In the center of the same page, a library notation that was written in ink but has since been erased reads “No 904”. The recto of the front flyleaf bears a notation in graphite, apparently in Woodruff’s handwriting: “Wilford | Woodruff | Woodruff”. On this same page, a stamp applied sideways in purple ink reads “HISTO[RI]AN’S OFFICE. | Chur[ch] of Jesus Christ | of Latter-day Saints.” The same stamp appears on the copyright page three pages later, at the bottom of page 60, and on the inside back cover. The flyleaf’s verso bears several inscriptions: Woodruff’s signature (with the first name spelled “Willford”) in black ink near the top of the page; “Tuskalusa | Allabama” in graphite in the middle of the page; and “6” followed by an illegible character, both written sideways in black ink roughly three-quarters down the page. On eleven of the twelve blank leaves he bound into the back of this book, Woodruff copied the remaining text of the partially printed chapter 65, another revelation, and several hymns.4

The twelfth leaf is the back pastedown, which Woodruff left blank. He completed Revelation, 11 September 1831 [D&C 64], and copied in full Revelation, 27 February 1833 [D&C 89], after which he copied eight hymns, four of which he gave headings. Each hymn was printed in The Evening and the Morning Star, and all four of Woodruff’s hymn headings match the headings given in the Star. The hymn that begins “Age after age has roll’d away” was printed in the May 1833 issue of the Star; “The great and glorious gospel light,” in July 1833; “Ere long the vail will rend in twain,” in May 1833; “Come ye children of the kingdom,” in April 1833; “My soul is full of peace and love,” in June 1833; “The happy day has rolled on,” in June 1833; “Beyond these earthly scenes in sight,” in July 1832; and “There is a land the Lord will bless,” in September 1834.  


Woodruff

1 Mar. 1807–2 Sept. 1898. Farmer, miller. Born at Farmington, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of Aphek Woodruff and Beulah Thompson. Moved to Richland, Oswego Co., New York, 1832. Baptized into LDS church by Zera Pulsipher, 31 Dec. 1833, near Richland. Ordained...

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likely acquired this copy of the Book of Commandments on 12 August 1834.5

Whitmer, Daybook, 12 Aug. 1834.  


He appears to have retained this volume until he donated it to the Church Historian’s Office on 19 July 1854. Library markings indicate the volume has remained in continuous church custody.6

“1303” is written in black ink on the bottom of page [3]. This number corresponds to an entry made sometime after 1930 in an early Church Historian’s Office catalog book. In addition, the Church Historian’s Office stamp used to mark several pages of the volume appears to have been in use in the late nineteenth century and possibly in the early twentieth century. (“Library Record,” book no. 1303.)  


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