History of Joseph Smith


Times and Seasons

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“History of Joseph Smith.” Time and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 3, no. 18 (15 July 1842):853–54.



After we had received this revelation he (Oliver Cowdery) stated to me that after he had gone to my father’s to board, and after the family communicated to him concerning my having got the plates, that one night after he had retired to bed he called upon the Lord to know if these things were so, and that the Lord manifested to him that they were true, but that he had kept the circumstance entirely secret, and had mentioned it to no being, so that after this revelation having been given he knew that the work was true, because that no being living knew of thing alluded to in the revelation, but God and himself. During the month of April I continued to translate, and he to write, with little cessation, during which time we received several revelations. A difference of opinion arising between us about the account of John the apostle, mentioned in the New Testament, John, twenty first chapter and twenty second verse, whether he died or whether he continued—we mutually agreed to settle it by the Urim and Thummim, and the following is the word which we received.

A Revelation given to Joseph Smith, jr. and Oliver Cowdery, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, April 1820 , when they desired to know whether John, the beloved disciple, tarried on earth.—Translated from parchment, written and hid up by himself.

And the Lord said unto me, John, my beloved, what desirest thou? For if ye shall ask, what you will, it shall be granted unto you. And I said unto him, Lord give unto me power over death, that I may live and bring souls unto thee. And the Lord said unto me, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, because thou desiredst this thou shalt tarry untill I come in my glory, and shall prophesy before nations, kindreds, tongues and people.

And for this cause the Lord said unto Peter, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? For he desiredst of me that he might bring souls unto me; but thou desiredst that thou might speedily come unto me in my kingdom. I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire, but my beloved has desired that he might do more, or a greater work, yet among men than what he has before done; yea, he has undertaken a greater work, therefore, I will make him as flaming fire and a ministering angel; he shall minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, who dwell on the earth; and I will make thee to minister for him and for thy brother James: and unto you three I will give this power and the keys of this ministry until I come.

Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy in that which ye have desired.

Whilst continuing the work of translation during the month of April; Oliver Cowdery became exceedingly anxious to have the power to translate bestowed upon him, and in relation to this desire the following revelations were obtained.

Revelation given April, 1829 .

Oliver Cowdery, verily verily I say unto you, that assuredly as the Lord liveth, who is your God and your Redeemer, even so sure shall you receive a knowledge of whatsoever things you shall ask in faith, with an honest heart, believing that you shall receive a knowledge concerning the engravings of old records, which are ancient, which contain those parts of my scripture of which have been spoken, by the manifestation of my Spirit; yea, behold I will tell you in your mind and in your heart by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

Now, behold this is the Spirit of Revelation behold this is the Spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red sea on dry ground; therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.

O remember these words, and keep my commandments. Remember this is [853] your gift. Now this is not all they gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron: behold it has told you many things: behold there is no other power save the power of God that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you; therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God, and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands; for it is the work of God. And therefore, whatsoever you shall ask me to tell you by that means, that will I grant unto you and you shall have knowledge concerning it: remember that without faith you can do nothing.— Therefore, ask in faith. Trifle not with these thing: do not ask for that which you ought not: ask that you may know the mysteries of God, and that you may translate and receive knowledge from all those ancient records which have been hid up, that are sacred, and according to your faith shall it be done unto you. Behold, it is I that have spoken it: and I am the same who spake unto you from the beginning. Amen.

Revelation given to Oliver Cowdery April, 1820 .

Behold I say unto you, my son, that because you did not translate according to that which you desired of me, and did commence again to write for my servant Joseph Smith. jr. even so I would that you should continue until you have finished this record, which I have intrusted unto him: and then behold, other records have I that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.

Be patient my son, for it is wisdom in me, and it is not expedient that you should translate at the present time. Behold the work which you are called to do, is to write for my servant Joseph; and behold it is because that you did not continue as you commenced, when you began to translate, that I have taken away this privilege from you. Do not murmur my son, for it is wisdom in me that I have dealt with you after this manner.

Behold you have not understood, you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought, save it was to ask me; but behold I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you: therefore, you shall feel that it is right; but if it be not right, you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought, that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong: therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred, save it be given you from me.

Now if you had known this, you could have translated; nevertheless, it is not expedient that you should translate now. Behold it was expedient when you commenced, but you feared and the time is not expedient now: for, do you not behold that I have given unto my servant Joseph sufficient strength, whereby it is made up? and neither of you have I condemned.

Do this thing which I have commanded you, and you shall prosper. Be faithful, and yield to no temptation.—Stand fast in the work wherewith I have called you, and a hair of your head shall not be lost, and you shall be lifted up at the last day. Amen.

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