A Book of Commandments - Chapter 4


Book of Commandments Chapter IV Doctrine and Covenants Section 5
A Revelation given to Joseph and Martin, in Harmony, Pennsylvania, March, 1829, when Martin desired of the Lord to know whether Joseph had in his possession, the record of the Nephites. Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet at Harmony, Pennsylvania, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris.
4:1 Behold, I say unto you, that my servant Martin has desired a witness from my hand, that my servant Joseph has got the things of which he has testified, and borne record that he has received of me. 5:1 Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me;
4:2 And now, behold this shall you say unto him:--I the Lord am God, and I have given these things unto my servant Joseph, and I have commanded him that he should stand as a witness of these things, nevertheless I have caused him that he should enter into a covenant with me, that he should not show them except I command him and he has no power over them except I grant it unto him; and he has a gift to translate the book and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift. 5:2 And now, behold, this shall you say unto him--he who spake unto you, said unto you: I, the Lord, am God, and I have given these things unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and have commanded you that you should stand as a witness of these things; 5:3 And I have caused you that you should enter into a covenant with me, that you should not show them except to those persons to whom I commanded you; and you have no power over them except I grant it unto you. 5:4 And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.
4:3 And verily I say unto you, that wo shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth, if they will not hearken my words, for behold, if they will not believe my words, they would not believe my servant Joseph, if it were possible that he show them all things. O ye unbelieving, ye stiffnecked generation, mine anger is kindled against you! 5:5 Verily, I say unto you, that woe shall come unto the inhabitants of the earth if they will not hearken unto my words; 5:6 For hereafter you shall be ordained and go forth and deliver my words unto the children of men. 5:7 Behold, if they will not believe my words, they will not believe you, my servant Joseph, if it were possible that you should show them all these things which I have committed unto you. 5:8 Oh, this unbelieving and stiffnecked generation--mine anger is kindled against them.
4:4 Behold, verily I say, I have reserved the things of which I have spoken, which I have intrusted to my servant, for a wise purpose in me, and it shall be made known in future generations: But this generation shall have my words, yea and the testimony of three of my servants shall go forth with my words unto this generation; yea, three shall know of a surety that these things are true, for I will give them power, that they may behold and view these things as they are, and to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation. And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth and my word, and behold, whosoever believeth in my word, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit, and they shall be born of me, and their testimony shall also go forth. 5:9 Behold, verily I say unto you, I have reserved those things which I have entrusted unto you, my servant Joseph, for a wise purpose in me, and it shall be made known unto future generations; 5:10 But this generation shall have my word through you; 5:11 And in addition to your testimony, the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things, and they shall go forth with my words that are given through you. 5:12 Yea, they shall know of a surety that these things are true, for from heaven will I declare it unto them. 5:13 I will give them power that they may behold and view these things as they are; 5:14 And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness--clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners. 5:15 And the testimony of three witnesses will I send forth of my word. 5:16 And behold, whosoever believeth on my words, them will I visit with the manifestation of my Spirit; and they shall be born of me, even of water and of the Spirit-- 5:17 And you must wait yet a little while, for ye are not yet ordained-- 5:18 And their testimony shall go forth unto the condemnation of this generation if they harden their hearts against them;
4:5 And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.4:6 And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan, for he reigneth and hath power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation: and not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah, do they come at this time: and behold the sword of justice hangeth over their heads, and if they persist in the hardness of their hearts, the time cometh that it must fall upon them. Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem, and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.. 5:19 For a desolating scourge shall go forth among the inhabitants of the earth, and shall continue to be poured out from time to time, if they repent not, until the earth is empty, and the inhabitants thereof are consumed away and utterly destroyed by the brightness of my coming. 5:20 Behold, I tell you these things, even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem; and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.
4:7 And now I command my servant, Joseph to repent, and walk more uprightly before me, and yield to the persuasions of men no more; and that he be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded him; and if he doeth this, behold I grant unto him eternal life, even if he should be slain. 5:21 And now I command you, my servant Joseph, to repent and walk more uprightly before me, and to yield to persuasions of men no more; 5:22 And that you be firm in keeping the commandments wherewith I have commanded you; and if you do this, behold I grant unto you eternal life, even if you should be slain.
4:8 And now I speak again concerning the man that desireth a witness: behold I say unto him, he exalteth himself and doth not humble himself sufficiently before me, but if he will go out and bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, then I will grant unto him a view of the things which he desireth to know: and then he shall say unto the people of this generation, behold I have seen the things and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man. And I command him that he shall say no more unto them, concerning these things, except he shall say, I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God. 5:23 And now, again, I speak unto you, my servant Joseph, concerning the man that desires the witness-- 5:24 Behold, I say unto him, he exalts himself and does not humble himself sufficiently before me; but if he will bow down before me, and humble himself in mighty prayer and faith, in the sincerity of his heart, the will I grant unto him a view of the things which he desires to see. 5:25 And then he shall say unto the people of this generation: Behold, I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith, Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them, for they have been shown unto me by the power of God and not of man. 5:26 And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God;
4:9 And these are the words which he shall say.--But if he deny this, he will break the covenanted with me, and behold he is condemned. And now except he humble himself and acknowledge unto me the things that he has done, which are wrong, and covenant with me that he will keep my commandments, and exercise faith in me, behold I say unto him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of the things which I have spoken. And if this be the case, I command him that he shall do no more, nor trouble me any more concerning this matter. and these are the words which he shall say. 5:27 But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned. 5:28 And now, except he humble himself and acknowledge unto me the things that he hath done which are wrong, and covenant with me that he will keep my commandments, and exercise faith in me, behold, I say unto him, he shall have no such views, for I will grant unto him no views of the things of which I have spoken. 5:29 And if this be the case, I command you, my servant Joseph, that you shall say unto him, that he shall do no more, nor trouble me any more concerning this matter.
4:10 And if this be the case, behold I say unto you, Joseph, when thou hast translated a few more pages, thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again: then thou mayest translate again. And except thou do thou do this, behold thou shalt have no more gift, and I will take away the things which I have intrusted with thee. 5:30 And if this be the case, behold, I say unto thee Joseph, when thou hast translated a few more pages thou shalt stop for a season, even until I command thee again; then thou mayest translate again. 5:31 And except thou do this, behold, thou shalt have no more gift, and I will take away the things which I have entrusted with thee.
4:11 And now, because I foresee the lying in wait to destroy thee: Yea, I foresee that if my servant humbleth not himself, and receive a witness from my hand, that he will fall into transgression; and there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee from off the face of the earth: And for this cause, that thy days may be prolonged, I have given unto thee these commandments; yea, for this cause I have said, stop and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee; and if thou art faithful in keeping my commandments, thou shalt be lifted up at the last day:-- Amen. 5:32 And now, because I foresee the lying in wait to destroy thee, yea, I foresee that if my servant Martin Harris humbleth not himself and receive a witness from my hand; that he will fall into transgression; 5:33 And there are many that lie in wait to destroy thee from off the face of the earth; and for this cause, that thy days may be prolonged, I have given unto thee these commandments. 5:34 Yea, for this cause I have said: Stop, and stand still until I command thee, and I will provide means whereby thou mayest accomplish the thing which I have commanded thee. 5:35 And if thou art faithful in keeping my commandments, thou shalt be lifted up at the last day. Amen.

Commentary

Most of the changes to this revelation are minor clarifications of thought. There are a few changes that seem to affect the meaning of the text itself.

In verse 2, we are told that Joseph's "only gift" was to translate the Book of Mormon. However, after the work on the Book of Mormon was completed, Joseph had begun his revision of the Bible. (He would, in later years, also "translate" the Book of Abraham). Verse 2 of the Book of Commandments chapter 4 was now out of date. In order to correct this apparent contradiction, Smith changed his "only gift" into the "first gift which I have bestowed on you". And, where the original version admonishes Smith to "pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.", he is now told to "pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this, for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished." (D&C 5:4).

The changes to verse 4 of Book of Commandments (D&C 5:9-18) are also significant. In its original context, the verse states that only three witnesses would be allowed to bear testimony to the Book of Mormon. Between Book of Commandments 4 and D&C 5, however, Joseph Smith had allowed a further eight witnesses this same privilege. It appears that this verse was modified so as to give the impression that the Three represented the start of the new church, and left open the possibility that there might be more.

Another interesting point is the quote from Song of Solomon 6:10. Joseph Smith declared this book uninspired, and left it out of his revision of the Bible.

The changes to verses 5 and 6 appear to have been occasioned by the recent misfortunes of the Mormons in Missouri. In order to avoid further antagonizing the already suspicious populace, Smith toned down the curse recorded in these verses, and replaced the specific phrase "this generation" with the more general "inhabitants of the earth".


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