'Law' could give independence to Church

"Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, to prepare and organize yourselves by a bond or everlasting covenant that cannot be broken.

" . . . Behold, this is the preparation wherewith I prepare you, . . ."That through my providence, notwithstanding the tribulation which shall descend upon you, that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world; . . . " (D&C 78:11, 13-14.)

In a revelation given through Joseph Smith at Hiram, Ohio, in March 1832, the Lord promised the saints that by obedience to the law of consecration the Church would become "independent above all other creatures" of the earth.

This was not the first revelation regarding consecration. In February 1831, the revelation known as the "Law" (Section 42) was given that the saints might know how to build Zion upon the earth. In this revelation and subsequent instructions, the Lord said that the individual member should consecrate his belongings for the common good of all members of the Church.

A major problem that prevented success under the law of consecration given in 1831 was that few members in Kirtland owned any property that could be used for redistribution. The only large acreage owned by members was the Isaac Morley farm.

Isaac Morley had lived in the Kirtland area since the early 1800s, having built a cabin there before he left to serve in the War of 1812. After the war, he returned to Kirtland, built a larger home and cleared and cultivated land for a farm. Morley's name appears in Church history the first time in connection with the visit of the first four Mormon missionaries to the Kirtland area in late 1830.

A few days after the missionaries taught Sidney Rigdon and others of his Campbellite congregation, they walked a few miles south to the outskirts of Kirtland where they contacted some people of a communal society living on the Morley farm. The society, known as "the Family," held all things in common in an effort to return to what they perceived to be the teachings of the New Testament. Morley and others of the society joined the Church.

When the four elders organized a branch of the Church, Morley was put in charge of the congregation. On June 6, 1831, he was called as a counselor to Bishop Edward Partridge. Many converts who gathered to Kirtland settled on the Morley farm.

Although the saints lacked sufficient land in Kirtland or personal wealth, Joseph Smith continued to receive revelations concerning the temporal responsibilities of Latter-day Saints. Of the revelation received in March 1832 (Section 78), Roy W. Doxey wrote in The Doctrine and Covenants Speaks:

"Although the first revelation concerning the laws that would apply in the building up of Zion was received about 13 months before this time, it was necessary to re-emphasize and implement the instructions concerning the fundamental law of consecration, one of the major laws to bring Zion to fruition. Section 78 was received in response to the need to point up further the importance of this law in the establishing of Zion. Closely associated with this objective was the corollary objective of independence of the Church in this world."

Brother Doxey further wrote, "Fundamental to the law of consecration is the principle that everything belongs to the Lord; therefore, whatever one possesses may be surrendered if called for to build up Zion."

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