26091

Revelation, 5 January 1831 [D&C 39]

Baptizing with water

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

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preparing for the time of my coming is at hand the day nor the hour no man knoweth but it shurely shall come & he that Receiveth these things receiveth me & they shall be gethered unto me unto in time & in eternity & again it shall come to pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water ye shall lay your hands in the name of Christ & they shall receive the Holy ghost

After baptism, new converts were confirmed members of the church “by the laying on of the hands, & the giving of the Holy Ghost.” According to JS’s history, the first confirmations were administered at the organization of the church on 6 April 1830. By March...

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& shall be looking forth for the time of my coming & shall know me Behold I come quickly even so amen [p. 60]
Baptizing with water

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
preparing for the time of my  coming is at hand the day nor the hour no man knoweth  but it shurely shall come & he that Receiveth these  things receiveth me & they shall be gethered unto me  into <unto> in time & in eternity & again it shall come to  pass that on as many as ye shall baptize with water  ye shall lay your hands in the name of Christ & they  shall receive the Holy ghost

After baptism, new converts were confirmed members of the church “by the laying on of the hands, & the giving of the Holy Ghost.” According to JS’s history, the first confirmations were administered at the organization of the church on 6 April 1830. By March...

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& shall be a looking forth  for the time of my coming & shall know me Behold  I come quickly even so amen [p. 60]
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JS dictated this revelation in Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, New York, for James Covel

Ca. 1770–Feb. 1850. Preacher, doctor. Likely born in Massachusetts. From 1791–ca. 1797, served as Methodist itinerant preacher, first in Litchfield, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, circuit; then in Otsego, Otsego Co., New York, circuit; Pittsfield, Berkshire...

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, a Protestant minister, three days after the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

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’s third conference

A meeting where ecclesiastical officers and other church members could conduct church business. The “Articles and Covenants” of the church directed the elders to hold conferences to perform “Church business.” The first of these conferences was held on 9 June...

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. When John Whitmer

27 Aug. 1802–11 July 1878. Farmer, stock raiser, newspaper editor. Born in Pennsylvania. Son of Peter Whitmer Sr. and Mary Musselman. Member of German Reformed Church, Fayette, Seneca Co., New York. Baptized by Oliver Cowdery, June 1829, most likely in Seneca...

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recorded this text in Revelation Book 1 a few months later, he wrote that Covel “covenanted

A binding agreement between two parties, particularly between God and man. The term covenant was often associated with “commandments,” referring to revelation texts. The gospel as preached by JS—including the need for faith, repentance, baptism, and reception...

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with the Lord that he would obey any commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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that the Lord would give through his servent Joseph.”
The identity of the revelation’s recipient is not known with certainty. Two individuals living in New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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at the time fit the general description, and no source definitively identifies either man as the recipient. The earliest extant manuscript copy of the revelation, featured below, provides only a given name. The first printed version in 1833 expanded “James” to “James (C.,)” with no additional information, and in 1835 the name was given as “James Covill

Ca. 1770–Feb. 1850. Preacher, doctor. Likely born in Massachusetts. From 1791–ca. 1797, served as Methodist itinerant preacher, first in Litchfield, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, circuit; then in Otsego, Otsego Co., New York, circuit; Pittsfield, Berkshire...

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” in the Doctrine and Covenants.1

Book of Commandments 41; Doctrine and Covenants 59, 1835 ed.  


JS’s history also uses this spelling because its editors relied on the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants for the revelation text. The history adds that Covill “had been a baptist minister for about forty years.”2

JS History, vol. A-1, 91.  


James Covill, a Baptist minister from Ellery, New York, who in 1831 was over seventy years old, fits this description, but he lived on the far western edge of the state, more than one hundred fifty miles away.3

Coburn, Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois, 735; 1830 U.S. Census, Ellery, Chautauque Co., NY, 317; see also 1840 U.S. Census, Ripley, Chautauque Co., NY, 271.  


JS and Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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could have met Covill on their way to Ohio

French explored area, 1669. British took possession following French and Indian War, 1763. Ceded to U.S., 1783. First permanent white settlement established, 1788. Northeastern portion maintained as part of Connecticut, 1786, and called Connecticut Western...

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at the end of January, but according to this earliest copy of the revelation, it was “given at Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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” on 5 January 1831.4

John Whitmer was likely not present when the revelation was dictated, but he did write the informative heading in this copy of the revelation within months of the event.  


The recipient of the revelation was much more likely James Covel

Ca. 1770–Feb. 1850. Preacher, doctor. Likely born in Massachusetts. From 1791–ca. 1797, served as Methodist itinerant preacher, first in Litchfield, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, circuit; then in Otsego, Otsego Co., New York, circuit; Pittsfield, Berkshire...

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, a Methodist elder from Canadice, New York. The index to Revelation Book 1 describes the recipient as “a Methodist Priest,” not a Baptist.5

Revelation Book 1, p. [208].  


James Covel lived about twenty miles southwest of Canandaigua

Located in central part of county in west-central part of state. Area settled, by 1790. Population in 1830 about 5,200. Joseph Smith Sr. imprisoned for debt for thirty days at county seat of Canandaigua village, Oct.–Nov. 1830. W. W. Phelps and Brigham Young...

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, New York, and had been associated with the Methodist church for nearly forty years.6

1830 U.S. Census, Canadice, Ontario Co., NY, 263; Stevens, Memorials of the Introduction of Methodism into the Eastern States, 119; Doughty, Life of Samuel Stilwell, 44; Seaman, Annals of New York Methodism, 227, 229.  


He may have heard JS or Sidney Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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preaching in the Canandaigua area. After JS and several others preached “with great power” in Ezra Thayer

Ca. 1792–6 Sept. 1862. Farmer, gardener, builder. Born in New York. Married Elizabeth Frank. Lived at Bloomfield, Ontario Co., New York, 1820. Lived at Farmington, Ontario Co., 1830. Baptized into LDS church by Parley P. Pratt and confirmed by JS, fall 1830...

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’s barn near Canandaigua in October 1830, they were invited to preach in Canandaigua. “They had promised that we should meet in the Methodist Meeting house,” Thayer later wrote, “but the Trustees could not agree.”7

“Testimony of Brother E. Thayre,” True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1862, 83. In addition to JS, Hyrum Smith, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., Parley P. Pratt, and Ziba Peterson preached at the October meeting in Thayer’s barn.  


As president of the regional Methodist conference, Covel was likely aware of the request.8

On 13 February 1830, Covel was elected president of the Methodist regional conference that included the districts of Rochester, Conhocton, Genesee, and Oneida. (Drinkhouse, History of Methodist Reform, 243–244.)  


In December a Mormon preacher, probably JS or Rigdon, “delivered a discourse in the Town House [in Canandaigua] to an assembly of two or three hundred people.”9

“Credulity,” Pennsylvania Inquirer and Morning Journal (Philadelphia), 29 Dec. 1830, [2]; see also “Testimony of Brother E. Thayre,” True Latter Day Saints’ Herald, Oct. 1862, 83.  


Covel may have attended the December meeting and then traveled to Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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, where the revelation was dictated.
Within a day after JS dictated this revelation, Covel

Ca. 1770–Feb. 1850. Preacher, doctor. Likely born in Massachusetts. From 1791–ca. 1797, served as Methodist itinerant preacher, first in Litchfield, Litchfield Co., Connecticut, circuit; then in Otsego, Otsego Co., New York, circuit; Pittsfield, Berkshire...

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departed from Fayette

Located in northern part of county between Seneca and Cayuga lakes. Area settled, by 1790. Officially organized as Washington Township, 14 Mar. 1800. Name changed to Fayette, 6 Apr. 1808. Population in 1830 about 3,200. Population in 1840 about 3,700. Significant...

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without explanation, leaving JS and Rigdon

19 Feb. 1793–14 July 1876. Tanner, farmer, minister. Born at St. Clair, Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania. Son of William Rigdon and Nancy Gallaher. Joined United Baptists, ca. 1818. Preached at Warren, Trumbull Co., Ohio, and vicinity, 1819–1821. Married Phebe...

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to wonder why he did not follow the commandment. A revelation on 6 January explained “why he obeyed not the word.”10

JS History, vol. A-1, 92; Revelation, 6 Jan. 1831 [D&C 40].  


Facts