Subject: D&C 134 Notes

The date 17 August 1835 is when section 134 was approved by a Church general assembly to be included in the Doctrine and Covenants, note the date it was written.

At the close of the meeting, after all those present had examined the revelations and voted to approve them, Oliver Cowery stood and "read an instrument containing certain principles or items upon law in general & church governments." After he had read the document, the entire congregation unanimously voted that it be accepted and included with the revelations.

Although Joseph Smith and Frederick G. Williams were on a mission to Michigan when the above meeting was held, the Prophet approved of section 134 and declared the statement to be "the belief of the Church" on principles of law and government.

The authorship of section 134 traditionally has been attributed to Oliver Cowdery.

Lyndon W. Cook, The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith: A Historical and Biographical Commentary of the Doctrine and Covenants, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), p. 296.

After this action, W. W. Phelps presented an article (not a revelation) on "Marriage," and Oliver Cowdery one on "Government and Laws in General," both of which were ordered printed in the book of "Doctrine and Covenants." There was also printed in the book a series of Seven Lectures on Faith, that had previously been delivered before a theological class in Kirtland. So that the Doctrine and Covenants then comprised the Articles of Faith, seven in number, the two Articles on Marriage and Government and a collection of Revelations, (not all that had been given, by the way,) the last forming the body and greater part of the book. (See History of the Church, Vol. II, chapter xviii.)

[According to B. H. Roberts] History of the Church, Vol.2, p.246, Footnotes

It should be observed that this "Article on Marriage" presented by W. W. Phelps, and also the one on "Government and Laws in General," presented by Oliver Cowdery, were not presented as revelations and were not published as such at the time, but were expressions of course, of the belief of the Saints at that period on those subjects. It should also be noted that these two articles were presented and acted upon in the absence of the Prophet who was at the time visiting saints and preaching in Michigan.

Article on Marriage.

"According to the custom of all civilized nations, marriage is regulated by laws and ceremonies; therefore we believe that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints should be solemnized in a public meeting or feast prepared for that purpose, and that the solemnization should be performed by a Presiding High Priest, High Priest, Bishop, Elder or Priest, not even prohibiting those persons who are desirous to get married, of being married by other authority. We believe that it is not right to prohibit members of this Church from marrying out of the Church, if it be their determination so to do; but such persons will be considered weak in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

"Marriage should be celebrated with prayer and thanksgiving, and at the solemnization, the persons to be married, standing together, the man on the right and the woman on the left, shall be addressed by the person officiating as he shall be directed by the Holy Spirit, and if there be no legal objections, he shall say, calling each by name: 'You both mutually agree to be each other's companion, husband and wife, observing the legal rights belonging to this condition: that is, keeping yourselves wholly for each other, and from all others, during your lives?' And when they have both answered 'yes,' he shall pronounce them 'husband and wife,' in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by virtue of the laws of the country and authority vested in him. 'May God add His blessing and keep you to fulfill your covenants from henceforth and forever. Amen.'

"The clerk of every church should keep a record of all marriages solemnized in his branch. All legal contracts of marriage made before a person is baptized into this Church should be held sacred and fulfilled.

Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.

It is not right to persuade a woman to be baptized contrary to the will of her husband; neither is it lawful to influence her to leave her husband.

All children are bound by law to obey their parents, and to influence them to embrace any religious faith, or be baptized, or leave their parents without their consent, is unlawful and unjust. We believe that husbands, parents, and masters, who exercise control over their wives, children and servants, and prevent them from embracing the truth, will have to answer for that sin."

President Oliver Cowdery then read the following article on "Governments and Laws in General," which was accepted and adopted and ordered to be printed in said book, by a unanimous vote'

History of the Church, Vol.2, Ch.18, p.247

The book's preface (pp. [iii]-iv), signed by Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, and F. G. Williams, February 17, 1835, alludes to the "aversion in the minds of some against receiving anything purporting to be articles of religious faith," and defends the book as a needed statement of the beliefs of the Latter-day Saints, who have been so widely misrepresented. (Years later David Whitmer, in his Address to All Believers in Christ (Richmond, 1887), described his opposition to the Doctrine and Covenants because it enunciated a creed for the Latter-day Saints. )

The first main part of the book (pp. [5]-74) is occupied with the seven "Lectures on Faith." These lectures, delivered before the school of the Elders in Kirtland during the preceding winter, cover such basic doctrines as the necessity and effect of faith; the attributes of God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost; man's relationship to God; and the nature of salvation; with supporting citations from the Bible, Book of Mormon, and in some cases, the Book of Commandments. Three of these lectures appeared earlier in print, the first as a broadside (Item 20) and the fifth and sixth in the May, 1835, Messenger and Advocate. Exactly who authored the lectures is not clear, although Sidney Rigdon is a possibility. In any case, their final form bears the influence of Joseph Smith, who in his history remarks, "During the month of January [1835], I was engaged in the school of the Elders, and in preparing the lectures on theology for publication in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, 77 The "Lectures on Faith" were maintained in the various LDS editions of the Doctrine and Covenants until 1921.

The second main part of the book (pp. [75]-257) contains 100 revelations spanning the period July, 1828, to March 28, 1835, as Sections 1-4 and 6-100 with two sections erroneously numbered 66; the minutes of the organization of the first High Council, February 17, 1834, as Section 5; an article on marriage and an article on government and laws in general as Sections 101 and 102; and the minutes of the August 17, 1835, General Assembly. The sixty-five chapters in the Book of Commandments are reprinted in the Doctrine and Covenants with substantial changes consistent with those changes made in the revelations in reprinting The Evening and the Morning Star. Ten of the chapters in the Book of Commandments are combined into three sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, so that fifty-eight sections actually comprise that portion originally published in the Book of Commandments. Traditionally, the articles on marriage and government have been attributed to Oliver Cowdery. These were read at the General Assembly of August 17, 1835, and accepted as part of the Doctrine and Covenants. The article on marriage appeared in all LDS editions until 1876, while the article on government is still included as Section 134. The minutes of the General Assembly occur only in the 1835 edition. An index comprises pages i-xxiii, and page xxv contains errata.

Apparently the changes in the printed revelations troubled a certain few of the brethren. At a meeting of the High Council at Far West, April 24, 1837, David W. Patten charged Lyman Wight with teaching false doctrines, among others that "the book of Doctrine and Covenants was a telestial law; and the Book of Commandments (a part of the revelations printed in Jackson county) was a celestial law." Wight was censured for these teachings, and directed to acknowledge his error to the churches where he had preached. 78 H.C., 2:481-82.

Peter Crawley, BYU Studies, Vol. 12, No. 4, p.502-503

Official Declaration--1  (AKA the Willford Woodruff Manifesto)

To Whom it may concern:

Press dispatches having been sent for political purposes, from Salt Lake City, which have been widely published, to the effect that the Utah Commission, in their recent report to the Secretary of the Interior, allege that plural marriages are still being solemnized and that forty or more such marriages have been contracted in Utah since last June or during the past year, also that in public discourses the leaders of the Church have taught, encouraged and urged the continuance of the practice of polygamy--

I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.

One case has been reported, in which the parties allege that the marriage was performed in the Endowment House, in Salt Lake City, in the Spring of 1889, but I have not been able to learn who performed the ceremony; whatever was done in this matter was without my knowledge. In consequence of this alleged occurrence the Endowment House was, by my instructions, taken down without delay.

Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intentions to submit to those laws, and to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.

There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey any such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.

Wilford Woodruff

President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Lorenzo Snow offered the following:

"I move that, recognizing Wilford Woodruff as the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the only man on the earth at the present time who holds the keys of the sealing ordinances, we consider him fully authorized by virtue of his position to issue the Manifesto which has been read in our hearing, and which is dated September 24th, 1890, and that as a Church in General Conference assembled, we accept his declaration concerning plural marriages as authoritative and binding."

The vote to sustain the foregoing motion was unanimous.

Salt Lake City, Utah, October 6, 1890.

Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto

The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme (sp?). It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.

(Sixty-first Semi-annual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

It matters not who lives or who dies, or who is called to lead this Church, they have got to lead it by the inspiration of Almighty God. If they do not do it that way, they cannot do it at all...

I have had some revelations of late, and very important ones to me, and I will tell you what the Lord has said to me. Let me bring your minds to what is termed the manifesto ... The Lord has told me to ask the Latter-day Saints a question, and He also told me that if they would listen to what I said to them and answer the question put to them by the Spirit and power of God, they would all answer alike, and they would all believe alike with regard to this matter.

The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue--to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles, and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church, and also leave the Temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead?

The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for...any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice. Now, the question is, whether it should be stopped in this manner, or in the way the Lord has manifested to us, and leave our Prophets and Apostles and fathers free men, and the temples in the hands of the people, so that the dead may be redeemed. A large number has already been delivered from the prison house in the spirit world by this people, and shall the work go on or stop? This is the question I lay before the Latter-day Saints. You have to judge for yourselves. I want you to answer it for yourselves. I shall not answer it; but I say to you that that is exactly the condition we as a people would have been in had we not taken the course we have. ...I saw exactly what would come to pass if there was not something done.

I have had this spirit upon me for a long time. But I want to say this: I should have let all the temples go out of our hands; I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do; and when the hour came that I was commanded to do that, it was all clear to me. I went before the Lord, and I wrote what the Lord told me to write ... I leave this with you, for you to contemplate and consider. The Lord is at work with us. (Cache Stake Conference, Logan, Utah, Sunday, November 1, 1891. Reported in Deseret Weekly, November 14, 1891.)

Now I will tell you what was manifested to me and what the Son of God performed in this thing...All these things would have come to pass, as God Almighty lives, had not that Manifesto been given. Therefore, the Son of God felt disposed to have that thing presented to the Church and to the world for purposes in his own mind. The Lord had decreed the establishment of Zion. He had decreed the finishing of this temple. He had decreed that the salvation of the living and the dead should be given in these valleys of the mountains. And Almighty God decreed that the Devil should not thwart it. If you can understand that, that is a key to it. (From a discourse at the sixth session of the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, April 1893. Typescript of Dedicatory Services, Archives, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah.)

[Commentary, Plural marriages and rumors of such, including accusation about adultery mixed with secrete marriages, are what prompted the statement on marriage, in an attempt to squash rumors and innuendo. Joseph Smith was conveniently out of town, thus he could be seen as supporting the inclusion of that statement from new members or outsiders, while continuing to spread plural marriage privately to select people for many years to come.  The issue of conflicting revelations was avoided by his absence.

BTW the Article on Marriage was section 101 of the 1835 edition of the D&C. The RLDS church maintained this section to this day. The Mormon church kept it in the Nauvoo editions 1844, 1845 and 1846. It was not removed until SLC 1876 Edition, just before the Death of Brigham Young, when section 132 was inserted.]

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