Doctrine and Covenants Lesson 26 (D&C 67–70)
THE BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS
A Revelation to William E. McLellin (D&C 66)
William E. McLellin (sometimes written M’Lellin or Mclellan) first received the gospel from missionaries on their way to Missouri just a few months before section 66 was given in October 1831.
● D&C 66:1–2 The “new and everlasting covenant” is the gospel Jesus Christ (D&C 132:4–7).
● D&C 66:3–13 He was pronounced “clean, but not all”—something that could be said about all of us. The Lord then gives him specific personal counsel.
In 1835 William E. McLellin was judged worthy to become one of the original twelve Apostles. Only three years later, however, he was excommunicated during a wave of apostasy.
The Lord’s Preface to the Commandments (D&C 1)
On 1 November 1831, just a few days after section 66 had been received, a special conference convened to consider publishing the revelations given over a nine-year period up to that time. The compilation was to be entitled the Book of Commandments. During the twelve days of meetings, the Prophet received six revelations: sections 1, 67–70, and 133.
After it was decided to publish some of the revelations already received, several elders bore testimony that these revelations were true. At this time the Lord revealed his preface for his book of commandments (D&C 1).
● D&C 1:1–6 The Lord describes the book’s message as a “voice of warning” to all people.
● D&C 1:11–14 The warning was to prepare for the Lord’s coming and the terrible calamities that will befall the wicked at that time.
● D&C 1:35–36 The Lord seeks to save all who wish to be saved; he is no respecter of persons.
● D&C 1:37 The Lord makes no apology for what he has spoken through the prophet. This makes more sense if we know the context of this revelation.
RECEIVING THE VOICE OF THE LORD
● D&C 67:1–4 Sometimes fear prevents faith and, therefore, revelation.
A Dispute Over Revelation
At this point in the conference, Joseph Smith asked the brethren if they were willing to place their names upon a witness to the world that these revelations and commandments were of God.
Some brethren were hesitant, feeling that the language of the commandments was inadequate and needed to be re-worded.
● D&C 67:6–9 In response, the Lord revealed a challenge to these critics.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “After the foregoing was received, William E. M’Lellin, as the wisest man, in his own estimation, having more learning than sense, endeavored to write a commandment like unto one of the least of the Lord’s, but failed; it was an awful responsibility to write in the name of the Lord. The Elders and all present that witnessed this vain attempt of a man to imitate the language of Jesus Christ, renewed their faith in the fulness of the Gospel, and in the truth of the commandments and revelations which the Lord had given to the Church through my instrumentality; and the Elders signified a willingness to bear testimony of their truth to all the world.”1
The effect of William E. McLellin’s failure upon the other brethren present was that he brethren renewed their desire to bear witness of the Book of Commandments.
As discussed earlier in this lesson, the effect of William McLellin’s failure upon the other brethren present was that the brethren renewed their desire to bear witness of the Book of Commandments.
● A Testimony of the Witnesses to the Joseph Smith then prepared by inspiration the
Book of the Lord’s Commandments testimony that appears at the beginning of our
Doctrine and Covenants (D&C, 1).
● D&C 67:10–14 The Lord promised those at the conference, “you shall see me and know that I am.”
Certain weaknesses had to be overcome: Jealousy, fear, and lack of humility. These very weaknesses had been manifested during the criticism of the revelations, but they also exist today and must be overcome if we are to see God.
The Mind and Will of the Lord
As the conference closed, a group of elders—Orson Hyde, Luke Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson and William E. M’Lellin—came to the Prophet and sought the will of the Lord concerning themselves and their ministry. This revelation was the result of the Prophet’s inquiry in their behalf.
● D&C 68:1 The Lord’s Will for Orson Hyde. “The prophecy in this verse was literally fulfilled. Orson Hyde proclaimed the gospel ‘from people to people, from land to land.’ In 1832, he and Samuel H. Smith traveled in the States of New York, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island—two thousand miles—on foot. In 1835 he was ordained an Apostle, and in 1837 he went on a mission to England. In 1840 he was sent on a mission to Jerusalem. He crossed the Ocean, traveled through England and Germany, visited Constantinople, Cairo, and Alexandria, and, finally, reached the Holy City. On October 24th, 1841, he went up on the Mount of Olives and offered a prayer, dedicating Palestine for the gathering of the Jews.”2
● D&C 68:2–4 The Lord defines what may be accepted as “scripture” or the word of the Lord.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared how the principles taught in this section apply to general conference: “I ask you to reflect in the days ahead not only on the messages you have heard but also on the unique phenomenon that general conference itself is—what we as Latter-day Saints believe such conferences to be and what we invite the world to hear and observe about them. We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people that God not only lives but also that He speaks, that for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard is, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, ‘the will of the Lord . . . the word of the Lord, . . . the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation’ [D&C 68:4].”3
OTHER IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS
● D&C 68:14–24 Instructions concerning the appointment of additional bishops.
● D&C 68:25–30 The responsibility of parents to teach their children.
● D&C 68:29 An injunction to keep the Sabbath day holy.
● D&C 68:30–32 The necessity of overcoming idleness and greediness.
● D&C 68:33 The command to continue praying.
Instructions to Specific Brethren
● D&C 69–70 Instructions to Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, and others.
● D&C 70:1–4 We are accountable for the revelations the Lord has given us.
● D&C 70:14 In temporal things the Saints were to be “equal.” This did not mean identical, but that every steward has all that he needs and desires in righteousness.
1. History of the Church, 1:226.
2. Smith and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Doctrine and Covenants, 409.
3. “An Ensign to the Nations,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 111.