Before 8 August 1839 (1)

Willard Richards Pocket Companion[1]

The Priesthood was first given to Adam: he obtained the first Presidency & held the Keys of it, from generation to Generation; he obtained it in the creation before the world was formed as in Gen. 1, 26:28,—he had dominion given him over every living Creature. He is Michael, the Archangel, spoken of in the Scriptures,—Then to Noah who is Gabriel, he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God to this office & was the Father of all living in his day, & To him was given the Dominion. These men held keys, first on earth, & then in Heaven.—The Priesthood is an everlasting principle & Existed with God from Eternity & will to Eternity, without beginning of days or end of years. [2] the Keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent.—When they are revealed from Heaven it is by Adams Authority.

Dan VII Speaks of the Ancient of days, he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael; he will call his children together, & hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He, (Adam) is the Father of the human family & presides over the Spirits of all men, & all that have had the Keys must stand before him in this great Council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him & there is given him glory & dominion.—Adam delivers up his Stewardship to Christ, that which was deliverd to him as holding the Keys of the Universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family. [3]

The Spirit of Man is not a created being; it existed from Eternity & will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be Eternal. & earth, water &c—all these had their existence in an elementary State from Eternity. [4] Our Savior speaks of Children & Says their angels always stand before my father. [5]

The Father called all spirits before him at the creation of Man & organized them. He (Adam) is the head, was told to multiply. [6] The Keys were given to him, and by him to others & he will have to give an account of his Stewardship, & they to him. The Priesthood is everlasting. The Savior, Moses, & Elias—gave the Keys to Peter, James & John on the Mount when they were transfigured before him. [7] The Priesthood is everlasting, without beginning of days or end of years, without Father, Mother &c,—

If there is no change of ordinances there is no change of Priesthood. Wherever the ordinances of the Gospel are administered there is the priesthood. How have we come at the priesthood in the last days? They it came down, down in regular succession. Peter James & John had it given to them & they gave it up. Christ is the Great High priest; Adam next.—Paul speaks of the Church coming to an innumerable company of Angels, to God the Judge of all, the Spirits of Just men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of the New Covenant, &c. Heb XII, 23. I saw Adam in the valley of Ah-dam-ondi-Ahman [8]—he called together his children & blessed them with a Patriarchal blessing. The Lord appeared in their midst, & he (Adam) blessed them all, & foretold what should befall them to the latest generation—See D.C. Sec III 28, 29 par [9]—This is why Abraham [10] blessed his posterity: He wanted to bring them into the presence of God. They looked for a city, &c. [11]—Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God, through the power of the Pristhood, but he could not. [12] In the first ages of the world they tried to establish the same thing—& there were Elias's raised up who tried to restore these very glories but did not obtain them. But (Enoch did for himself & those that were with Him, but not for the world. J.T. [13]) they prophesied of a day when this Glory would be revealed.—Paul spoke of the Dispensation of the fulness of times, when God would gather together all things in one &c &. [14] Those men to whom these Keys have been given will have to be there. (I.E. when Adam shall again assemble his children of the Priesthood, & Christ be in their midst) the Ancient of Days come &c &c J.T.) And they without us cannot not be made perfect. [15] These men are in heaven, but their children are on Earth. Their bowels yearn over us. God sends down men for this reason, Mat. 13. 41. & the Son of man shall send forth his Angels &c—All these authoritative characters will come down & join hand in hand in bringing about this work—The Kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed. the mustard seed is small but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches The fowls are the Angels, [16] the Book of Mormon perhaps, these Angels come down combined together to gather their children, & gather them. We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us when these things are done the Son of man will descend, the ancient of Days sit.—We may come to an innumerable company of Angels have communion with & receive instruction from them.—Paul told about Moses's proceedings. Spoke of the Children of Israel being baptized, [17] &c, he knew this & that all the ordinances, & blessings were in the Church. Paul had these things; & we may have the fowls of the heaven lodge in the branches &c. The horn made war with the Saints, & overcame them &c, until the Ancient of Days came, judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High, from the Ancient of Days—the time came that the Saints possessed the kingdom—this not only makes us ministers here but in Eternity. Salvation cannot come without revelation, it is in vain for anyone to minister without it.

No man is a minister of Jesus Christ, without being a Prophet. No man can be the minister of Jesus Christ, except he has the testimony of Jesus & this is the Spirit of Prophecy. [18] Whenever Salvation has been adminsitered it has been by Testimony. Men at the present time testify of Heaven & of hell, & have never seen either—& I will say that no man knows these things without this. Men profess to prophecy. I will prophecy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced, one pestilence will dessolate after another, we shall soon have war & bloodshed. [19] The Moon will be turned to blood. [20] I testify of these things, & that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh even at your doors.—If our Souls & our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, & after we are dead if we are not looking forth, &c we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon us &c [21]—The hearts of the children will have to be turned to the fathers, & the fathers to the children living or dead to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. If Elijah did not come the whole earth would be smitten. [22] There will be here & there a stake &c. For the gathering of the Saints Some may have cried peace, but the Saints & the world will have little peace from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stakes, for God has told us to flee not dallying, or we shall be scattered, one here, another there. [23] There your children shall be blessed & you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. &c The Gospel net gathers of every kind.[24] I prophecy that the man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going will be aflicted by the Devil. Wars are at hand we must not delay, but we are [are we?] not required to Sacrifice. [25] We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.—when wars come we shall have to flee to Zion, the cry is to make haste. The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the Earth until these things come. [26] It will come as did the cholera, [27] war, & fires burning earthquake, one pestilence after another &c until the Ancient of Days come then judgment will be given to the Saints.

Whatsoever you may hear about me or Kirtland, take no notice of, [28] for if it be a place of refuge the Devil will use his greatest efforts to trap the Saints. You must make yourselves acquainted with those men, who, like Daniel pray three times a day to the house of the Lord. [29]—Look to the Presidency &c. & receive instruction. Every man who is afraid, covetous &c will be taken in a snare.—The time is soon coming when no man will have any peace but in Zion & her Stakes. [30] I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, & brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters & daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies I saw blood, desolations, & fires &c,—The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, & the daughter against the mother &c, &c,—these things are at our doors. [31] They will follow the Saints of God from City to City—Satan will rage & The Spirit of the Devil is now enraged, &c I know not how soon these things will take place, and with a view of them shall I cry peace? No! I will lift up my voice & testify of them. How long you will have good crops, & the famine be kept off. I do not know. When the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand. [32] we may look for Angels &c. & recieve their ministering but we are to try the spirits & prove them. [33] for it is often the case that men make a mistake in regard to these things.

God has so ordained that when he has communicated by vision no vision [is] to be taken but what you see by the seeing of the eye or what you hear by the hearing of the ear—When you see a vision &c pray for the interpretation if you get not this, shut it up. [34]—There must be certainty in this matter. An open vision will manifest that which is more important. Lying Spirits are going forth in the Earth.

There will be great manifestation of Spirit both false & true. &c. Being born again comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances. [35] An angel of God never has wings. Some will say that they have seen a Spirit, that he offered them his hand, but they did not touch it. This is a lie. First it is contrary to the plan of God A Spirit cannot come but in glory. [36] An angel has flesh and bones, we see not their glory. The Devil may appear as an angel of light. Ask God to reveal it, if it be of the Devil, he will flee from you, if of God he will manifest himself or make it manifest, we may come to Jesus & ask him. he will know all about it.—If he comes to a little child, he will adapt himself to the Language & capacity of a little child.—There is no Gold nor Silver &c. [37] it is false, all is plain in heaven; every Spirit or vision or Singing is not of God. The Devil is an orator, &c: he is powerful: he took our Savior onto a pinnacle of the temple, & kept him in the wilderness for forty days. [38] The gift of discerning spirits will be given to the presiding Elder, pray for him. that he may have this gift [39] Speak not in the Gift of tongues without understanding it, or without interpretation, The Devil can speak in Tongues. The Adversary will come with his work, he can tempt all classes, Can speak in English or Dutch.—Let no one speak in tongues unless he interpret except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside, then he may discern or interpret or another may. Let us seek for the Glory of Abraham, Noah, Adam, the Apostles have communion with these things and then we shall be among that number when Christ comes.

—Before 8 August 1839 (1)


[1] See History of the Church, 3:385-92, and Teachings, pp. 157-62. Because the initials "J.T." appear in two separate notes in this transcript, it is probable that it was recorded by John Taylor. This speculation is substantially enhanced by the following allusion to this piece in a later reminiscence by Elder Taylor:

We read of certain men that lived at various times, who, by virtue of the Priesthood they held, identified themselves with the cause of God, and interested themselves in the redemption of the world. The Priesthood they had is everlasting, it administers in time and eternity; and the men who held it live forever, and they continue to operate in their serveral positions and Priesthoods….
In speaking with the Prophet Joseph once on this subject, he traced it from the first down to the last, until he got to the Ancient of Days. He wished me to write something for him on this subject, but I found it a very difficult thing to do. He had to correct me several times. We are told that the "judgement shall sit and the books be opened." He spoke of the various dispensations and of those holding the keys thereof, and said there would be a general giving up or "accounting for." I wrote that each one holding the keys of the several dispensations would deliver them up to his predecessor, from one to another, until the whole kingdom should be delivered up to the Father, and then God would be "all in all." Said he, "That is not right." I wrote it again, and again he said it was not right. It is very difficult to find language suitable to convey the meaning of spiritual things. The idea was that they should deliver up or give an account of their administrations, in their several dispensations, but that they would all retain their several positions and Priesthood." (John Taylor, Address, 31 December 1876, Journal of Discourses 18:329-30.)

The reason we feel confident that this reminiscence is directly referring to this "sermon" is because this is the only Nauvoo-period record that discusses this future priesthood gathering. Even the 5 October 1840 discourse, a discourse given while John Taylor was still in England on his mission, does not directly refer to this meeting. No article appeared in any of the Nauvoo publications (including the Times and Seasons when Joseph Smith and John Taylor jointly edited it) which makes allusion to this Adam-ondi-Ahman meeting.
Although the Journal of Discourses lists this as a sermon, nothing in the extant copies of this piece establishes that it was a sermon. It may well have been a last draft of a piece Joseph Smith dictated to John Taylor, which he later read to the Twelve. Regrettably, no transcript in John Taylor's handwriting has appeared. However, Willard Richards recorded it in England in his "Pocket Companion" after he became a member of the Council of the Twelve when John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff brought their journals with them. When it was included in the manuscripts of the History of the Church, George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff, the final lead editors of the compilation, introduced it as follows: "About this time, in reply to many inquiries, [Joseph Smith] also gave an explanation of the Priesthood, and many principles connected therewith, of which the following is a brief synopsis" (History of the Church, 3:385). Clearly, if it was not a discourse, Elders Woodruff and Smith felt it was a prepared statement.
Although this "discourse" is given the date 2 July 1839 in Teachings, Elders Smith and Woodruff had insufficient documentation to place a precise date on the report. Instead, as noted above, they chose to give it an approximate date of "about this time." In fact, they markedly separated this text from the text of his 2 July 1839 sermon when placing it with the 2 July 1839 entry of the History. The compilers of Teachings, however, blurred the two documents together so that both sermons have been assigned the one date (2 July 1839) in every printing of Teachings. The blurring of the two documents into one sermon was not duplicated in the case of the publication of this "sermon" in the Journal of Discourses 6:237. It is published as a separate "address" from the other items included in History of the Church under the date of 2 July 1839. Unfortunately, the Journal of Discourses publication of this "sermon" cannot help us more accurately date this "sermon." It assigns to it the date of "Tuesday" 2 June 1839. This date appears to be two errors compounded in one. George D. Watt, editor of the Journal of Discourses, clearly extracted this entry from the published History of Joseph Smith for when he was about to make the same easy-to-understand error of assigning it the date of 2 July 1839 (just as the Teachings compilers had done), he, instead, added to the error by giving the sermon a month date of June rather than July 1839. That he was not privy to a better date for the sermon than the History of Joseph Smith can be verified by the fact that the day of the week for the date he gave for the sermon (2 June 1839) was actually a Sunday not a Tuesday. On the other hand, 2 July 1839 was a Tuesday (just as is noted in the History of Joseph Smith). Therefore, because we have not found definitive information dating this "sermon," and because John Taylor recorder of this "sermon" left Commerce, Illinois for his mission to England with fellow apostle Wilford Woodruff on 8 August 1839 (Wilford Woodruff Diary, 8 August 1839, LDS Church Archives), we have chosen to simply assign to this and the next two entries the date of "Before 8 August 1839."

[2] Alma 13:7-9; D&C 84:17 (1-17); Abraham 1:2-4; JST Hebrews 7:3.

[3] Daniel 7:9-14, 21-22, 27 (1-28); D&C 29:26-28; 78:16 (13-16); 116; and, 128:18.

[4] D&C 93:29, 30, 33 (29-35). Whether one believes that the spirit of man is a special act of creation at the time of birth (as in Catholic theology) or that man's spirit had a premortal existence beginning at the time of the Creation (as in some Protestant theology), the creation of the spirit of men is viewed as essentially a creation ex nihilo—out of nothing. Joseph Smith rejected the ex nihilo concept very early (D&C 93:29, 30, 33 (29-35); a 6 May 1833 revelation); nevertheless, this discourse contains his first public reference to the concept, which received its closest attention in the celebrated King Follett sermon (7 April 1844). Here the Prophet extends his discussion of ex nihilo creation to the self-existence of all matter. According to Joseph Smith, God did not utterly transcend existence by creating from nothing time, space, and matter; rather, these things always existed: He is composed of matter, occupies space, and lives in an eternity of time. During the Nauvoo period, Joseph Smith repeatedly discussed this and thus implicitly dealt with the ultimate questions of reality—the question of the existence of God, the nature of man, and the problem of evil and suffering.

[5] Matthew 18:10.

[6] Before this discourse, no published scriptures of the Church had fully synthesized Joseph Smith's apparently well developed concept of the premortal existence of mankind. To be sure, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants contained elements of the concept, but not until 1842 would the book of Abraham be published, which tells of Abraham's vision of the premortal condition of the human family (see Abraham 3:22-4:1). Thus this discourse is a very significant statement of theology on the part of the Prophet when taken in conjunction with his previously recorded scriptures on this subject (in chronological order): 2 Nephi 2:17-18; 9:8-9, 16; Mosiah 3:6; Alma 13:2-5; Moses 1:33-34; D&C 29:28, 36-40, 42; Moses 3:4-5; 4:1-4; 5:6-7, 24; 76:25-28, 44; 93:29, 30, 33, 38.

[7] Matthew 17:1-13.

[8] "Ah-dam" stands for Adam. Orson Pratt speaks of an uncanonized revelation Joseph Smith received in which the Lord revealed words of Adam's language including the word Ahman used in this name-title of the land where Adam dwelt (Journal of Discourses 26 vols. [Liverpool, England: F. D. Richards, et. al., 1854-86], 2:342). The above pronunciation of Adam (as "Ah-dam") is interesting, given that in Hebrew the first syllable in the name Adam is pronounced with an umlaut-a sound (that is, aw-dawm'), rather than the short sound as in our anglicized form.

[9] D&C 107:53-57 in our present edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

[10] It seems probable that Joseph Smith said "Adam," but the recorder of this sermon wrote "Abraham." On the other hand, the name recorded might be correct, in which case the Prophet might possibly be providing insight to Hebrews 11:8-10* beyond what is explicitly stated in that passage of scripture.

[11] Hebrews 11:8-10. See also "Church of the First Born" passages in 27 June 1839, note 15.

[12] Exodus 19, 20; D&C 84:19-25. See also JST Exodus 34:1-2.

[13] The initials "J. T." undoubtedly stand for John Taylor. John Taylor (1808-87) was baptized in 1836 and was ordained an apostle in December 1838. He became the third President of the Church in 1880.

[14] Ephesians 1:10.

[15] Hebrews 11:40. A year and a half later this passage of scripture was used as a proof-text for the validity of the doctrine of Baptism for the Dead. This application of Hebrews 11:40 makes it difficult to know whether the ordinance of Baptism for the Dead had yet been revealed to Joseph Smith, though aspects of the Doctrine of Salvation for the Dead had previously been revealed. See D&C 137.

[16] The insight that the "fowls" in Matthew 13:31-32* represent "angels" is consistent with other interpretations the Savior gave in this chapter; there is no explicit explanation of the Mustard Seed parable. This is an example of the Prophet's amplifying the text of the Bible beyond what is recorded in the manuscripts of his translation of that book.

[17] 1 Corinthians 10:1 (1-4).

[18] Revelation 19:10. See also the scriptures listed in 27 June 1839, note 3.

[19] D&C 38:29-31; 45:63-75; 86; 87; 131:12-13. Joseph Smith's certainty that the signs of the Second Coming had commenced may have had its basis in Moroni's 1823 instructions that these signs were soon to be fulfilled.

[20] On the night of 21-22 September 1823, when the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith he quoted Joel's prophecy regarding the moon's turning into blood, and told Joseph "that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be." (See Joel 2:31 and JS-H 1:41.)

[21] Regarding the ability of those in the Spirit World to witness the second coming of the Savior, see Revelation 1:7; 6:12-17; and, D&C 88:92-110.

[22] Malachi 4:5-6.

[23] D&C 42:64; 45:68; 133:12-13.

[24] Matthew 13:47-50. See also Teachings, p. 102.

[25] Psalm 50:5. See also Lectures on Faith 6:9.

[26] The Prophet may be alluding to a presently unknown revelation or simply expressing his awe at the magnitude of the work to be accomplished before the Second Coming.

[27] Cholera is a term applied to a wide variety of acute diarrheal diseases of short duration. Very common in Asia, it was, for example, between 1898 and 1907 responsible for at least 370,000 deaths. Oliver Cowdery, who watched the spread of Cholera, believing it to be a sign of the last days, reported that an outbreak in India in 1817 spread to England by 1830 and finally to America by 1832 (The Evening and The Morning Star 2 [September 1834]: 189).

[28] This appears to be a reference to the failure of the Kirtland Bank and to certain lawsuits in which Joseph Smith was involved.

[29] Daniel 6:10.

[30] D&C 45:69.

[31] Matthew 10:35.

[32] Matthew 24:32-33.

[33] 1 John 4:1. See 27 June 1839, note 21.

[34] Daniel 8:26; D&C 76:47 (40-49). See also 27 June 1839, note 21.

[35] D&C 52:14-20; 84:19-25; Moses 6:57-68; JST Exodus 34:1-2.

[36] In a later address Joseph Smith clarified this observation on the glory of spirits when he said, "Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire, or glory. Angels have advanced farther—their light and glory being tabernacled, and hence appear in bodily shape" (9 October 1843 discourse). See 27 June 1839, note 21.

[37] Revelation 21:21 (17-21).

[38] Matthew 4:5.

[39] D&C 46:23, 26.