Public Announcement Of The Doctrine Of Polygamy

Athough there was practically no concealment of the practice of

polygamy by the Mormons resident in Utah after their arrival

there, it was not until five years from that date that open

announcement was made by the church of the important

"revelation." This "revelation" constitutes Sec. 132 of the

modern edition of the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," and bears

this heading: "Revelation on the Eternity of the Marriage

Covenant, including Plurality of Wives. Given through Joseph, the

Seer, in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois, July 12, 1843." All

its essential parts are as follows:

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph, that

inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand, to know and understand

wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac and

Jacob; as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching

the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and


"Behold! and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as

touching this matter:

"Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the

instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who

have this law revealed unto them must obey the same;

"For behold! I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant;

and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one

can reject this covenant, and be permitted to enter into my


"For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law

which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions

thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the


"And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was

instituted for the fullness of my glory; and he that receiveth a

fullness thereof, must and shall abide the law, or he shall be

damned, saith the Lord God.

"And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are

these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows,

performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that

are not made, and entered into, and sealed, by the Holy Spirit of

promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for

all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and

commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have

appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed

unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and

there is never but one on the earth at a time, on whom this power

and the keys of this Priesthood are conferred), are of no

efficacy, virtue, or force, in and after the resurrection from

the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end, have

an end when men are dead . . . .

"I am the Lord thy God, and I give unto you this commandment,

that no man shall come unto the Father but by me, or by my word,

which is my law, saith the Lord; . . .

"Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry

her not by me, nor by my word; and he covenant with her so long

as he is in the world, and she with him, their covenant and

marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are

out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when

they are out of the world;

"Therefore, when they are out of the world, they neither marry,

nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven,

which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who

are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight

of glory;

"For these angels did not abide my law, therefore they cannot be

enlarged, but remain separately and singly, without exaltation,

in their saved condition, to all eternity, and from henceforth

are not Gods, but are angels of God, for ever and ever.

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife, and

make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that

covenant is not by me, or by my word, which is my law, and is not

sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him whom I have

anointed, and appointed unto this power--then it is not valid,

neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are

not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they

are out of the world, it cannot be received there, because the

angels and the Gods are appointed there, by whom they cannot

pass; they cannot, therefore, inherit my glory, for my house is a

house of order, saith the Lord God.

"And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my

word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant,

and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him

who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power, and the

keys of this Priesthood; and it shall be said unto them, ye shall

come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the

first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit

thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all

heights and depths--then shall it be written in the Lamb's Book

of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent

blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder

whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all

things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and

through all eternity, and shall be of full force when they are

out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the

Gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all

things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall

be a fullness and a continuation of the seeds for ever and ever.

"Then shall they be Gods, because they have no end; therefore

shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they

continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are

subject unto them. Then shall they be Gods, because they have all

power, and the angels are subject unto them.

"Verily, verily I say unto you, except ye abide my law, ye cannot

attain to this glory; . . .

"And verily, verily I say unto you, that whatsoever you seal on

earth, shall be sealed in Heaven; and whatsoever you bind on

earth, in my name, and by my word, with the Lord, it shall be

eternally bound in the heavens; and whosesoever sins you remit on

earth shall be remitted eternally in the heavens; and whosesoever

sins you retain on earth, shall be retained in heaven.

"And again, verily I say, whomsoever you bless, I will bless, and

whomsoever you curse, I will curse, with the Lord; for I, the

Lord, am thy God . . . .

"Verily I say unto you, a commandment I give unto mine handmaid,

Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay

herself, and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer

unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I

did Abraham; and that I might require an offering at your hand,

by covenant and sacrifice.

"And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all those that have

been given unto my servant Joseph, and who are virtuous and pure

before me; and those who are not pure, and have said they were

pure, shall be destroyed, with the Lord God;

"For I am the Lord, thy God, and ye shall obey my voice; and I

give unto my servant Joseph that he shall be made ruler over many

things, for he hath been faithful over a few things, and from

henceforth I will strengthen him.

"And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave

unto my servant Joseph, and to none else. But if she will not

abide this commandment, she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord;

for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her, if she abide not

in my law;

"But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my

servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I

will bless him and multiply him, and give unto him an hundred

fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters,

houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives

in the eternal worlds.

"And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant

Joseph his trespasses; and then shall she be forgiven her

trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me; and I, the

Lord thy God, will bless her, and multiply her, and make her

heart to rejoice . . . .

"And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood, if any

man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the

first give her consent; and if he espouse the second, and they

are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he

justified; he cannot commit adultery, for they are given unto

him; for he cannot commit adultery. with that that belongeth unto

him and to no one else.

"And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot

commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto

him, therefore is he justified.

"But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused,

shall be with another man; she has committed adultery, and shall

be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and

replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfill

the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of

the world; and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that

they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my

Father continued, that he may be glorified.

"And again, verily, verily I say unto you, if any man have a wife

who holds the keys of this power, and he teacheth unto her the

law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall

she believe, and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed,

saith the Lord your God, for I will destroy her; for I will

magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law.

"Therefore, it shall be lawful in me, if she receive not this

law, for him to receive all things, whatsoever I, the Lord his

God, will give unto him, because she did not administer unto him

according to my word; and she then becomes the transgressor; and

he is exempt from the law of Sarah; who administered unto Abraham

according to the law, when I commanded Abraham to take Hagar to


"And now, as pertaining to this law, verily, verily I say unto

you, I will reveal more unto you, hereafter; therefore, let this

suffice for the present. Behold, I am Alpha and Omega. Amen."

This jumble of doctrinal and family commands bears internal

evidence of the truth of Clayton's account of its offhand

dictation with a view to its immediate submission to the

prophet's wife, who was already in a state of rebellion because

of his infidelities.

The publication of the "revelation" was made at a Church

Conference which opened in Salt Lake City on August 28, 1852, and

was called especially to select elders for missionary work.* At

the beginning of the second day's session Orson Pratt announced

that, unexpectedly, he had been called on to address the

conference on the subject of a plurality of wives. "We shall

endeavor," he said, "to set forth before this enlightened

assembly some of the causes why the Almighty has revealed such a

doctrine, and why it is considered a part and portion of our

religious faith."

*For text of the addresses at this conference, see Deseret News,

extra, September 14, 1852.

He then took up the attitude of the church, as a practiser of

this doctrine, toward the United States government, saying:--

"I believe that they will not, under our present form of

government (I mean the government of the United States), try us

for treason for believing and practising our religious notions

and ideas. I think, if I am not mistaken, that the constitution

gives the privilege to all of the inhabitants of this country, of

the free exercise of their religious notions, and the freedom of

their faith and the practice of it. Then, if it can be proved to

a demonstration that the Latter-Day Saints have actually

embraced, as a part and portion of their religion, the doctrine

of a plurality of wives, it is constitutional. And should there

ever be laws enacted by this government to restrict them from the

free exercise of their religion, such laws must be


Thus, at this early date in the history of Utah, was stated the

Mormon doctrine of the constitutional foundation of this belief,

and, in the views then stated, may be discovered the reason for

the bitter opposition which the Mormon church is still making to

a constitutional amendment specifically declaring that polygamy

is a violation of the fundamental law of the United States.

Pratt then spoke at great length on the necessity and

rightfulness of polygamy. Taking up the doctrine of a previous

existence of all souls and a kind of nobility among the spirits,

he said that the most likely place for the noblest spirits to

take their tabernacles was among the Saints, and he continued:--

"Now let us inquire what will become of those individuals who

have this law taught unto them in plainness, if they reject it."

(A voice in the stand "They will be damned.") "I will tell you.

They will be damned, saith the Lord, in the revelation he hath

given. Why? Because, where much is given, much is required. Where

there is great knowledge unfolded for the exaltation, glory and

happiness of the sons and daughters of God, if they close up

their hearts, if they reject the testimony of his word and will,

and do not give heed to the principles he has ordained for their

good, they are worthy of damnation, and the Lord has said they

shall be damned."

After Brigham Young had made a statement concerning the history

of the "revelation," already referred to, the "revelation" itself

was read.

The Millennial Star (Liverpool) published the proceedings of this

conference in a supplement to its Volume XV, and the text of the

"revelation" in its issue of January 1, 1853, saying editorially

in the next number:--

"None [of the revelations] seem to penetrate so deep, or be so

well calculated to shake to its very center the social structure

which has been reared and vainly nurtured by this professedly

wise and Christian generation; none more conclusively exhibit how

surely an end must come to all the works, institutions,

ordinances and covenants of men; none more portray the eternity

of God's purpose--and, we may say, none have carried so mighty an

influence, or had the power to stamp their divinity upon the mind

by absorbing every feeling of the soul, to the extent of the one

which has appeared in our last."

With the Mormon church in England, however, the publication of

the new doctrine proved a bombshell, as is shown by the fact that

2164 excommunications in the British Isles were reported to the

semi-annual conference of December 31, 1852, and 1776 to the

conference of the following June.

The doctrine of "sealing" has been variously stated. According to

one early definition, the man and the woman who are to be

properly mated are selected in heaven in a pre-existent state;

if, through a mistake in an earthly marriage, A has got the

spouse intended for B, the latter may consider himself a husband

to Mrs. A. Another early explanation which may be cited was thus

stated by Henry Rowe in the Boston Investigator of, February 3,


"The spiritual wife doctrine I will explain, as taught me by

Elder W--e, as taught by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Elder

Adams, William Smith, and the rest of the Quorum, etc., etc.

Joseph had a revelation from God that there were a number of

spirits to be born into the world before their exaltation in the

next; that Christ would not come until all these spirits received

or entered their 'tabernacles of clay'; that these spirits were

hovering around the world, and at the door of bad houses,

watching a chance of getting into their tabernacles; that God had

provided an honorable way for them to come forth--that was, by

the Elders in Israel sealing up virtuous women; and as there was

no provision made for woman in the Scriptures, their only chance

of heaven was to be sealed up to some Elder for time and

eternity, and be a star in his crown forever; that those who were

the cause of bringing forth these spirits would receive a reward,

the ratio of which reward should be the greater or less according

to the number they were the means of bringing forth."

Brigham Young's definition of "spiritual wifeism" was thus

expressed: "And I would say, as no man can be perfect without the

woman, so no woman can be perfect without a man to lead her. I

tell you the truth as it is in the bosom of eternity; and I say

to every man upon the face of the earth, if he wishes to be

saved, he cannot be saved without a woman by his side. This is

spiritual wifeism, that is, the doctrine of spiritual wives."*

* Times and Seasons, Vol. VI, p. 955.

The Mormon, under polygamy, was taught that he "married" for

time, but was "sealed" for eternity. The "sealing" was therefore

the more important ceremony, and was performed in the Endowment

House, with the accompaniment of secret oaths and mystic

ceremonies. If a wife disliked her husband, and wished to be

"sealed" to a man of her choice, the Mormon church would marry

her to the latter*--a marriage made actual in every sense--if he

was acceptable as a Mormon; and, if the first husband also wanted

to be "sealed" to her, the church would perform a mock ceremony

to satisfy this husband. "It is impossible," says Hyde, "to state

all the licentiousness, under the name of religion, that these

sealing ordinances have occasioned." **

* One of Stenhouse's informants about the "reformation" of 1856

in Utah writes: "It was hinted, and secretly taught by authority,

that women should form relations with more than one man." On this

Stenhouse says: "The author has no personal knowledge, from the

present leaders of the church, of this teaching; but he has often

heard that something would then be taught which 'would test the

brethren as much as polygamy had tried the sisters."'--"Rocky

Mountain Saints," p. 301.

** "Mormonism," p. 84.

A Mormon preacher never hesitated to go to any lengths in

justifying the doctrine of plural marriages. One illustration of

this may suffice. Orson Hyde, in a discourse in the Salt Lake

Tabernacle in March, 1857, made the following argument to support

a claim that Jesus Christ was a polygamist:--

"It will be borne in mind that, once on a time, there was a

marriage in Cana of Galilee; and on a careful reading of that

transaction it will be discovered that no less a person than

Jesus Christ was married on that occasion. If he was never

married, his intimacy with Mary and Martha, and the other Mary

also, whom Jesus loved, must have been highly unbecoming and

improper, to say the best of it. I will venture to say that, if

Jesus Christ was now to pass through the most pious countries in

Christendom, with a train of women such as used to follow him,

fondling about him, combing his hair, anointing him with precious

ointments, washing his feet with tears and wiping them with the

hair of their heads, and unmarried, or even married, he would be

mobbed, tarred and feathered, and rode, not on an ass, but on a

rail . . . . Did he multiply, and did he see his seed? Did he

honor his Father's law by complying with it, or did he not?

Others may do as they like, but I will not charge our Saviour

with neglect or transgression in this or any other duty."*

* Journal of Discourses, Vol. IV, p. 259.

The doctrine of "adoption," referred to, taught that the direct

line of the true priesthood was broken with the death of Christ's

apostles, and that the rights of the lineage of Abraham could be

secured only by being "adopted" by a modern apostle, all of whom

were recognized as lineal descendants of Abraham. Recourse was

here had to the Scriptures, and Romans iv. 16 was quoted to

sustain this doctrine. The first "adoptions" took place in the

Nauvoo Temple. Lee was "adopted to" Brigham Young, and Young's

and Lee's children were then "adopted" to their own fathers.

With this necessary explanation of the introduction of polygamy,

we may take up the narrative of events at Nauvoo.

Progress Of The Settlement Radical Dissensions In The Church - Origin Of The Danites - Tithing facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail