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Revelation, July 1828 [D&C 3]

July one Thousand Eight hundred & Twenty Eight Given to Joseph the Seer

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

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after he had lost certan writings which he had Translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

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by the gift & Power of God1

John Whitmer likely created this heading when he copied the text into Revelation Book 1.  


Saying the works & designs & the Purposes of God cannot be frustrated neither can they come to ground2

That is, “to be overcome” or “to perish.” (“Ground,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 4:451.)  


for God doth not walk in crooked Paths neither doth he turn to the right hand nor to the left neither doth vary from that which he hath said therefore his paths are strait & his course is one eternal round Remember Remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated but the works of men for although a man may have many Revelations & have power to do many Mighty works yet if he boast in his own strength & Sets at naught the councils of God & follows after the dictates of his will & carnal desires he must fall to the Earth & incur the vengence of a Just God upon him behold you have been intrusted with those things but strict was your 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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& Remember also the Promises which were made to you if you transgressed them & behold how oft you have transgressed the Laws of God & have gone on in the Persuasions of men for behold you should not have feared men more then God although men set at naught the councils of God & dispise his words yet you should have been faithful & he would have extended his arm & supported you against all the firey darts of the advisary & he would have been with you in evry time of trouble behold thou art Joseph & thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord but because of transgression thou mayest fall but remember God is merciful therefore repent of that which thou hast done & he will only cause thee to be afflicted for a season3

In his earliest history JS explained: “The Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass afte[r] much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again.” (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, [6].)  


& thou art still chosen & will & will again be called to the work & except [p. 1]
July one Thousand Eight hundred & Twenty Eight  Given to Joseph the Seer

The Book of Mormon identified a seer as a “revelator, and a prophet also,” specifying, however, that a seer was “greater than a prophet.” A seer could “know of things which has past, and also of things which is to come.” The work of a seer included translation...

View Glossary
after he had lost certan writ ings which he had Translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

View Glossary
by the gift & Power of God1

John Whitmer likely created this heading when he copied the text into Revelation Book 1.  


Saying the words <works> of & designs & the Purposes of God cannot  be frustrated neither can they come to naught ground2

That is, “to be overcome” or “to perish.” (“Ground,” in Oxford English Dictionary, 4:451.)  


for God  doth not wa[l]k in crooked Paths neither doth he turn to  the right hand nor to the left neither doth vary from  that which he hath said therefore his paths are strait & his  course is one eternal round Remember Remember that it  is not the work of God that is frustrated but the works of  men for although a man may have many Revelations &  have power to do many Mighty works yet if he boast in  his own strength & Sets at naught the councils of God &  follows after the dictates of his will & carnal desires he  must fall to the Earth & incur the vengence of a Just God  upon him behold you have been intrusted with those  things but strict was your 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...

View Glossary
& Remember  also the Promises which were made to you if you transgre ssed them & behold how oft you have transgressed them  Laws of God & have gone on in the Persuasions of men for  behold you should not have feared men more then God alth ough men set at naught the councils of God & dispise his  words yet you should have been faithful & he would have  extended his arm & supported you against all the firey darts  of the advisary & he would have been with you in evry time  of trouble behold thou art Joseph & thou wast chosen to do  the work of the Lord but because of transgression thou mayest  fall but remember God is merciful therefore repent of  that which thou hast done & he will only cause thee  to be afflicted for a season3

In his earliest history JS explained: “The Plates was taken from me by the power of God and I was not able to obtain them for a season and it came to pass afte[r] much humility and affliction of Soul I obtained them again.” (JS History, ca. Summer 1832, [6].)  


& thou art still chosen &  will & will again be called to the work & except [p. 1]
Next
This is the first JS revelation for which a text has survived.1

By contrast, the source text for Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5], is the earliest extant copy of any of JS’s revelations.  


According to JS’s history, it was obtained using the Urim and Thummim

A device used to translate and receive revelation. In the Old Testament, the high priest of Israel used a device by this name to discern God’s will for Israel. The Book of Mormon gives an account of an ancient prophet, Mosiah, who translated records into ...

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after Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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lost the earliest Book of Mormon manuscript. Working in Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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, Pennsylvania, from mid-April to mid-June 1828, JS dictated and Harris wrote what JS later called “the Book of Lehi,” translated

To produce a text from one written in another language; in JS’s usage, most often through divine means. JS considered the ability to translate to be a gift of the spirit, like the gift of interpreting tongues. He recounted that he translated “reformed Egyptian...

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from the gold plates.2 Facing ongoing opposition from his wife

1 May 1792–summer 1836. Born at Swift’s Landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York. Daughter of Rufus Harris and Lucy Hill. Affiliated with Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Married Martin Harris, 27 Mar. 1808, in Palmyra. Partially deaf, by ...

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, Harris pressed JS to “enquire of the Lord through the Urim and Thummin” whether Harris could take the translation to his home in Palmyra

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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, New York, to “read to his friends that peradventur he might convince them of the truth.”3

JS History, vol. A-1, 9; JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 5. Lucy Harris had recently traveled to Harmony to see the plates herself but left in anger when JS would not allow it. Martin and Lucy Harris likely had a troubled marriage prior to Martin’s involvement with JS and the translation of the plates. In the spring of 1828 Martin and Lucy finalized a jointure agreement giving Lucy her marital or dower interest. The document by which Martin deeded Lucy’s portion of the property to her (by way of her brother Peter Harris) bears an 1825 date but was recorded and filed in May 1828. Since Lucy opposed Martin’s involvement in the translation, she may have pressured him into executing this agreement to protect her interests because she feared that he would offer financial support for the translation and printing of the Book of Mormon, which he in fact did. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 6, [8]–[10]; Wayne Co., NY, Deed Records, 1823–1904, vol. 5, pp. 530–532, 29 Nov. 1825, microfilm 478,782, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  


JS’s history said that he “inquired of the Lord and the Lord said unto me that he [Harris] must not take” the manuscript.4 Dissatisfied with the answer, Harris made a second request, resulting in a similar inquiry and answer. Finally, “after much solicitation” from Harris, JS “again enquired of the Lord, and permission was granted him [Harris] to have the writings on certain conditions,” which included showing them only to specified family members.5

JS History, vol. A-1, 9; see also Revelation, Mar. 1829 [D&C 5:3]. While JS’s 1832 history said that Harris agreed to show the manuscript to only four people, JS’s later history named five people: “his brother. Preserved Harris, his own wife, his father [Nathan Harris], and his mother [Rhoda Lapham Harris], and a Mrs [Mary (Polly) Harris] Cobb a sister to his wife.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 9; compare JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 5–[6].)  


With the manuscript in hand, Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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left for 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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, apparently on 14 June. On 15 June, Emma Smith

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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gave birth to a son

15 June 1828–15 June 1828. Born at Harmony (later in Oakland), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Son of JS and Emma Hale. Did not survive birth.

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who was either stillborn or died shortly after birth.6

Sophia Lewis reportedly said that she was present at the birth and that the baby was stillborn. Lucy Mack Smith, not present at the birth, wrote that the baby “was very soon snatched from her [Emma’s] arms and borne aloft to the world of spirits.” Although the birth and death of this baby are recorded in JS’s family Bible under the name of “Alvin Smith,” this information was recorded in the Bible decades after the event by someone other than JS or Emma. The baby’s gravestone does not give him a name but reads, “An Infant Son of Joseph and Emma Smith.” (Sophia Lewis, Statement, in “Mormonism,” Susquehanna Register and Northern Pennsylvanian (Montrose, PA), 1 May 1834, [1]; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [1]; JS Family Bible; Photograph of Tombstone, 1907, George Edward Anderson, Glass Plate Negative Collection, 1897–1927, CHL; see also JS History, 1834–1836, 9; and Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289.)  


For nearly three weeks JS cared for Emma, who in Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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’s words felt “to tremble upon the verge of the silent home of her infant.”7

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [1]–[2].  


As Emma began to recover in early July, she encouraged JS to “repair to Palmira

Known as Swift’s Landing and Tolland before being renamed Palmyra, 1796. Incorporated, Mar. 1827, two years after completion of adjacent Erie Canal. Population in 1820 about 3,700. Joseph Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith family lived in village briefly, beginning ...

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, for the purpose of learning the cause of Mr. Harris absence, as well as silence.”8

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 128.  


Shortly after JS arrived at his parents’ home near Palmyra, he learned that Harris had lost the manuscript. Lucy Mack Smith wrote that “sobs and groans . . . filled the house,” with JS “weeping and grieving like a tender infant.” He and his family soon “parted with heavy hearts,” and JS returned to Pennsylvania

Area first settled by Swedish immigrants, 1628. William Penn received grant for territory from King Charles II, 1681, and established British settlement, 1682. Philadelphia was center of government for original thirteen U.S. colonies from time of Revolutionary...

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.9

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [6]–[7].  


JS’s history described the historical setting for the revelation: “Immediately after my return home [to Harmony

Located in northeastern Pennsylvania. Area settled, by 1787. Organized 1809. Population in 1830 about 340. Population in 1840 about 520. Contained Harmony village (no longer in existence). Josiah Stowell hired JS to help look for treasure in area, Oct. 1825...

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] I was walking out a little distance, when Behold the former heavenly messenger appeared and handed to me the Urim and Thummin again (for it had been taken from me in consequence of my having wearied the Lord in asking for the privilege of letting Martin Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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take the writings which he lost by transgression) and I enquired of the Lord through them and obtained the folowing revelation.”10

JS History, vol. A-1, 10.  


It is not known when or how the text was committed to paper. Although JS may have written it himself, he dictated later revelations to scribes and may have dictated this one to either Emma

10 July 1804–30 Apr. 1879. Scribe, editor, boardinghouse operator, clothier. Born at Willingborough Township (later in Harmony), Susquehanna Co., Pennsylvania. Daughter of Isaac Hale and Elizabeth Lewis. Member of Methodist church at Harmony (later in Oakland...

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or her brother Reuben Hale, both of whom served as scribes to JS during this time.11

Knight, Reminiscences, 4; Joseph Smith III, “Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald, 1 Oct. 1879, 289; see also Blackman, History of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 104.  


The earliest extant version of the revelation, featured here, was copied into Revelation Book 1 by 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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, likely in early 1831.
The revelation rebuked JS for allowing Harris

18 May 1783–10 July 1875. Farmer. Born at Easton, Albany Co., New York. Son of Nathan Harris and Rhoda Lapham. Moved with parents to area of Swift’s landing (later in Palmyra), Ontario Co., New York, 1793. Married first his first cousin Lucy Harris, 27 Mar...

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to take the manuscript and commanded him to repent before he could resume the translation. According to Lucy Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

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, the angel told JS that because he “had sinned in that he had delivered the manuscript into the hands of a wicked man . . . he would of necessity suffer the consquence’s of his indiscretion.” However, after losing the plates and the spectacles, JS continued his “suplications to God without cessation” until he “had the joy and satisfaction of again receiving the urim and Thummim.”12

Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 7, [9], [11]. JS’s later history said the plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from him twice, the first time (as noted above) after he wearied the Lord in requesting that Harris be allowed to take the manuscript. Then, after the angel returned the Urim and Thummim and JS obtained through it the revelation presented here, “both the plates, and the Urim and Thummin were taken from me again.” After “a few days” they were given back and another revelation explained that “because you delivered up so many writings, which you had power to translate, into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them, and you also lost your gift at the same time, nevertheless it has been restored unto you again: therefore, see that you are faithful and go on unto the finishing of the remainder of the work as you have begun.” Lucy Mack Smith explained that the plates, and presumably the Urim and Thummim, were returned “on the 22 of september [1828].” (JS History, vol. A-1, 10–11; Revelation, Spring 1829 [D&C 10:1–3].)  


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