Sunday Evenings with the Doctrine and Covenants. Doctrine and Covenants Section 130. Part 4. Comparing Sources for the MS History.

You can see from parts one, two and three that the text of D&C 130 is founded on the Manuscript History of the Church via its instantiation in the Millennial Star. The Manuscript History is a work of epic proportions, almost entirely due to the planning and effort of Willard Richards, apostle, private secretary to Joseph Smith and church historian and recorder. Richards procured large ledger books in which to copy edited source documents for the history. Richards did not live to see his project completed, but the History more or less followed his source plan, a plan written out in Nauvoo before the apostles journeyed west to Utah. The various scribes for the history include some well known names in Mormon lore, like Thomas Bullock, Jonathan Grimshaw, Leo Hawkins, Robert Campbell and more.[1]

In part 3 I compared part of the text of D&C 130 with a source for the Manuscript History, namely Joseph Smith’s own journal. Joseph Smith rarely kept his own journals and after December 1841, Willard Richards wrote most of the entries for the journal, largely independently of Joseph Smith. In this part I want to focus on another document, one that was clearly, I think, a source for Willard Richards: the William Clayton journal. Below, you will see Clayton’s journal account on the left, the Joseph Smith diary on the right.

Clayton Journal
In correcting two points in Er Hydes discourse he observed as follows, “The meaning of that passage where it reads ‘when he shall appear we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is’ is this, When the savior appears we shall see that he is a man like unto ourselves, and that same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist among us there only it will be coupled with eternal glory which we do not enjoy now. Also the appearing of the father and the son in John c 14 v 23 is a personal appearing and the idea that they dwell in a mans heart is a sectarian doctrine and is false.”

In answer to a question which I [William Clayton] proposed to him as follows, ‘Is not the reckoning of gods time, angels time, prophets time & mans time according to the planet on which they reside he answered yes “But there is no angel ministers to this earth only what either does belong or has belonged to this earth and the angels do not reside on a planet like our earth but they dwell with God and

the planet where he dwells is like crystal, and like a sea of glass before the throne. This is the great Urim & Thummim whereon all things are manifest both things past, present & future and are continually before the Lord. The Urim and Thummim is a small representation of this globe. The earth when it it purified will be made like unto crystal and will be a Urim & Thummim[2] whereby all things pertaining to an inferior kingdom or all kingdoms of a lower order will be manifest to those who dwell on it. and this earth will be with Christ

Then the white stone mentioned in Rev. c 2 v 17 is the Urim & Thummim whereby all things pertaining to an higher order of kingdoms even all kingdoms will be made known and a white stone is given to each of those who come into this celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.

“Whatever principle of intelligence we obtain in this life will rise with us in the ressurection: and if a person gains more knowledge in this life through his diligence & obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come. There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of this world upon which all blessings are predicated; and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

“The Holy Ghost is a personage, and a person cannot have the personage of the H. G. in his heart. A man receive the gifts of the H. G., and the H. G. may descend upon a man but not to tarry with him.

He also related the following dream. “I dreamed that silverheaded old man came to see me and said he was invaded by a gang of robbers, who were plundering his neighbors and threatening distruction to all his subjects. He had heard that I always sought to defend the oppressed, and he had come to hear with his own ears what answer I would give him. I answered, if you will make out the papers and shew that you are not the agressor I will call out the Legion and defend you while I have a man to stand by me. The old man then turned suddenly round and said I must call out the Legion and go and he would have the papers ready when I arrived, and says he I have any amount of men which you can have under your command. [This dream took place on March 9, 1843 and is found in the Joseph Smith diary under March 11.]

Er Hyde gave this interpretation “The old man represents the government of the these United States who will be invaded by a foreign foe, probably England. The U. S. government will call on you to defend probably all this Western Territory, and will offer you any amount of men you may need for that purpose.

Once when prest. Joseph was praying ernestly to know concerning the wars which are to preceed the coming of the son of man, he heard a voice proclaim that the first outbreak of general bloodshed would commence at South Carolina–see Revelation

Joseph Smith Journal Entry
after breakfast called on Sister Sophronia [Joseph Smith’s sister] 10 A. M. [Then we went] to meeting. Elder Hyde Preached 1 epistle John 1. chapter 1st 3 verses–when he shall appear we shall be like him &c. he will appear on a white horse, as a warrior, & maybe we shall have some of the same spirit.–our god is a warrior.–John 14.23–it is our privilege to have the father & son dwelling in our hearts.

. . . dined at Sophronia’s & soon as we arrived.–Elder Hyde I am going to offer some corrections to you. Elder H. replied–they shall be thankfully received.–When he shall appear we shall see him as he is. we shall see that he is a Man like ourselves.–And that same sociality which exists amongst us here will exist among us there only it will be coupled with eternal glory which glory we do not now enjoy.

14 John 23.–the appearing of the father and of the Son in that verse is a personal appearance.–to say that the father and the Son dwell in a mans heart is an old Sectarian notion. and is not correct.

There are no angels who administer to this earth but who belong or have belonged to this earth. The angels do not reside on a planet like this earth. but they reside in the presence of God–but on a Globe like a sea of glass & fire. “Sea of glass before the throne, &c.” where all things are manifest past present & to come.–The place where God resides is a great Urim and Thummim. This earth in its sanctified & immortal state will be a Urim & Thummim for all things below it in the scale of creation, but not above it.–related the Dream written on page 3rd Book B Interpretation By Orson Hyde–

A dream, then related. Night before last I dreamed that an old man come to me and said there was a mob force coming upon him, and he was likely to loose his life, that I was Lieut General and had the command of a large force, and I was also a patriot and disposed to protect the innocent & unoffending. & wanted I should assist him. I told him I wanted some written documents to show the facts that they are the aggressors, & I would raise a force sufficient for his protection, that I would call out the Legion,–He turned to go from me, but turned again and said to me. “I have any amount of men at my command and will put them under your command.”

I prophecy in the Name of the Lord God that the commencement of bloodshed as preparatory to the coming of the son of man. will commence in South Carolina,–(it probably may come through the slave trade.)–this the voice declared to me. while I was praying earnestly on the subject 25 December 1832.–

I earnestly desired to know concerning the coming of the Son of Man & prayed,when a voice Said to me, Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art 85 years old thou shalt see the face of the son of man. therefore let this suffice & trouble me no more on this matter–

1 o’clock p.m. attended meeting. Joseph read 5th Chapter of Johns revelation. referring particularly to the 6th verse. showing from that the actual existence of beasts in heaven probable those were beasts which had lived on another planet than ours–

God never made use of the figure of a beast to represent the kingdom of heaven.–Beasts 7 eyes Priesthood.–this is the first time I have ever taken a text in Revelation.–and if the young elders would let such things alone it would be far better.–then corrected Elder Hyde as in private.

[2 April 1843 (Sunday Evening), Ramus, Illinois]
Meeting 7 eve resumed the subject of the beast.–shewed very plainly that Johns vision was very different from Daniel’s Prophecy–one referring to things existing in heaven. the other a figure of things which on be [sic] on the earth whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life. it will rise with us in the resurrection,–and if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence

through his obedience & diligence than another he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.–

There is a law irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundation of the world upon which all blessings are predicated and when we obtain a blessing it is by obedience to the law upon which that blessing is predicated.

I again reverted to Elders Hyde mistake. &c. the Father has a body of flesh & bones as tangible as mans the Son also, but the Holy Ghost is a personage of spirit.–and a person cannot have the personage of the H G in his heart he may receive the gift of the holy Ghost. it may descend upon him but not to tarry with him,–

Of course he cribbed from me.  Don't you read your own stuff? "Come, come, ye Saints . . . "  Yes, I'm more famous than he is.

Of course he cribbed from me. Don’t you read your own stuff? “Come, come, ye Saints . . . ” Yes, I’m more famous than he is.

Observe that the two texts show a different ordering of events. The Smith diary entry is curious for the following reason: Willard Richards was in Nauvoo on April 2 while Joseph Smith was in Ramus, Illinois, about 27 miles east southeast of Nauvoo. So, how did Richards get his report for the journal? Several possibilities exist.

I don't like to reveal my sources.  It's people like you always prying that make me laugh. Hahahahaha.

I don’t like to reveal my sources. It’s people like you always prying that make me laugh. Hahahahaha.

1. He copied Clayton’s journal. This is possible, but doesn’t explain the significant variations. Clayton’s report of the activities on the trip is not as robust at the Smith diary.
2. Richards got his report from someone else (Hyde? Joseph Smith?) and this explains the differences between the Clayton report and Smith diary.
3. Richards had multiple sources and welded them into the entry that presently exists.
4. Richards expanded on available sources for his entry.

The Point Here is This: This section in the Doctrine and Covenants is not a single text. It is a text-cloud.[3] And the same is true of all the revelations and indeed every word of scripture.

Next time we begin to get to the punchline. A Genetic Text for D&C 130. I know you can hardly wait. [Part 5 is here.]
[1] It is somewhat tragic to me, that most Latter-day Saints know little if anything of these men.

[2] Recall that Urim and Thummim was a term used to describe any of the stones that Joseph Smith used as revelatory instruments, not just the stones he and others stated were found with the Book of Mormon plates.

[3] A neologism privately circulated by Sam MB for years, making its public debut here for the first time. A text-cloud is like a measurable function. You just can’t pin it down. (Only kidding Sam. SteveP, Brian, and my other brothers and sisters, you understand what I mean.)


  1. J. Stapley says:

    WVS, have you been able to find any textual evidence for when the Richards account may have been composed?

  2. J., this part of the JS diary appears in sequence, but the April 2 entry is clearly copied from some other source. The April 3 and 4 entries follow in the normal pattern of the diary entries, but their character is more typical. The script for the April 2 entry is tighter and clearly not “on the spot” reporting. When Richards uses the diary for reporting at an event his handwriting can be very cryptic. The April 2 entry is very readable, not hurried. At the beginning of the April 2 entry, Richards reports Newsprint from St. Louis and happenings in Nauvoo.

    There is clearly a time lapse at this point, the ink changes as he pens in the account of the trip to Ramus. He had previously marked the following two pages in the ink from the beginning of the previous page as the April 3rd and 4th entries, he already made a short entry for April 3, describing the weather, this was not canceled (as was the day and date). Typical entries were short and maybe half a page at the point. Richards changed the date of the April 3 entry in the ink from the Ramus narrative of the previous page and continues copying in the Ramus report.

    The next page was planned as the April 4 entry. Nothing but the day and date were placed at the top (perhaps because Richards had nothing to report), then canceled and the Ramus report continued. The next page has the April 2 date at the head. A new April 3 entry follows in the same ink as the April 2 report (and notes the failure of William Miller). The whole thing appears to fit between April 1 and April 6, 1843.

  3. Love this series. You do such great work, WVS. Please keep educating us.

  4. Thanks, John f.

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