Lit Come Follow Me: D&C 41-44 — Law, Consecration and Revelation

The central section of this week’s Come Follow Me lesson is section 42, initially known simply as “The Law”, meaning the law of the Church. This was so important that the previous section simply prepares for it. Section 43 then emphasizes the point that the law of the Church is provided by revelation.

While the commandments given in section 42 are also found elsewhere, the combination of what is gathered here is interesting, especially because of the emphasis in verses 30-42 on the law of consecration as a means of supporting the poor. Of course, the means used in the Church today to support the poor is very different. But the presence of the obligation to help is important—and something that Church members ought to consider. To me, it feels like many Church members don’t really understand this obligation.

The Law and the Gospel

For the concept of the law, let’s look at the poem The Gospel, published in the Juvenile Instructor in 1899. Written by someone who went by the initial “J”, the poem gives an overview of commandments and gospel principles, many of which are found in section 42:

The Gospel

The Gospel is the power of God,

To every soul’s salvation,
No matter whether Jew or Greek

Or any other nation.

 

But there is something we must do

‘Ere we can be possessing
That great and glorious Gospel gift,

That all-embracing blessing.

 

When we reflect upon our sins,

It brings us many a tremor.
But, on repenting, we’re forgiven

Through Jesus, our Redeemer.

 

The needful thing for us to do

Is full obedience render.
Then our transgressions fade away

And Christ is our Defender.

 

If we repent of all our sins

And make full reformation,
Keeping God’s laws henceforth, for us

There is no condemnation.

 

To work the rule of righteousness

The Gospel is the leaven,
That here the will of God may be

Done as it is in heaven.

 

When to our Heavenly Father’s will

We offer no resistance,
We are in the right way to solve

The problem of existence.

 

If we would try our very best

To do what is most fitting,
We should not waste much precious time

In doctrinal hair-splitting.

 

If we would put and keep ourselves

Upon our best behavior.
We’d very soon be one indeed

In Jesus Christ our Savior.

 

Sectarian technicalities

With us would soon have vanished.
Strife, quarrels, envy, jealousies

Would be forever banished.

 

The selfish games of greed and grab

Could never more afflict us,
Nor would oppressive laws be made

To needlessly restrict us.

 

The many worries of our time

No longer would annoy us,
And every effort would be vain

To ruin or destroy us.

 

From talking of our neighbors’ faults

We should feel more like shrinking,
And how to better our own lives

We should be oftener thinking.

 

As we wish they would do to us.

So we should do to others.
That is the true and only way

For men to live like brothers.

 

That is the golden Gospel rule.

Though now we live below it.
That is the height for us to gain.

And every one should know it.

 

If we would live a perfect life

(Than this, naught could be plainer)
We must obey a perfect law,

Or hopes could not be vainer.

 

Yes, in the great Millennium

This must be our election,
To shape our lives by Gospel laws

And thus attain perfection.

 

Some say, “These are ideal views.”

Well, real’s fruit of ideal.
Heaven is ideal realized,

There ideal becomes real.

 

These ideal views the Lord above

Is daily to us giving.
To make ideals real is

The purpose of our living.

Remember the Poor

As I mentioned above, section 42 suggests that the primary reason for the law of consecration it outlines was to help the poor (instead of building up the Church, which is the reason given today). Few LDS poets are as frank and direct about this obligation as William W. Phelps was in the following poem. While directed mostly as a criticism towards the non-Mormon clergy of his day, Phelps does directly address church members too, although not as strongly:

Remember the Poor

by W. W. Phelps (1842)
Remember, ye clergy, as eyes to the world,—

Ah ye that pretend you are working for God,
For hundreds a year, in your clerical robes:—

The poor are forgotten at home and abroad:—

Remember the poor!

 

Remember—ye christians, in all christendom,

That boast of your tracts, and the aid you afford,
For churches, and Bibles, and missions afar,

But not for a prophet to honor the Lord:

Remember the poor!

 

Remember—ye nations and multitudes far,

That worship all manner of gods, in your turn,
That sparkle like fire-flies, or grovel like worms,

The world with its hay, wood and stubble, must burn:

Remember the poor!

 

Remember—ye Mormons, the Latter Day Saints,

That know how your Savior is coming, anon,
To make up his jewels, of purified gold,

From all of the cities of great Babylon:

Remember the poor!

 

Remember—ye servants, the prophetic horns

That walk by the Spirit, and go by command
To gather the guests for the feast of the Lord—

With friends, and with foes, on the sea, or the land,—

Remember the poor!

Revelation

The final principle covered in section 42 is that the Church will be guided by revelation. Samuel Brown, the author of this poem, joined the Church in Kirtland, and by 1836 had been ordained an Elder. He moved to the Nauvoo area and the following poem was published in the Nauvoo Times and Seasons in May of 1841. He later moved to Pennsylvania and eventually back to Kirtland, where he died in 1884. In this poem he talks about the role of revelation in the church:

Inspired Writings

By Samuel Brown (1841)
Revelations now coming forth,
Are sublime and eternal truth;
In them Jehovah’s voice proclaims,
This is my church, enroll your names.

 

The word of wisdom’s a sure guide
To all who do the same abide;
Its promises are very great.
Though I the same need not relate.

 

Enbalmed records, plates of gold,
Glorious things to us unfold;
Though sealed up they long have been,
To give us light they now begin.

 

Long since to Daniel God did say,
“Seal up the book and go thy way:
For many shall be purified,
By sacrifice they shall be tried.”

 

A noble man of ancient birth
Beheld the same spring from the earth;
And many more in visions saw
The books which now contain the law.

 

Judah’s writing and Joseph’s too,
Each testifies the other’s true;
They teach the same when searched thro’.
Believe them both, we’re bound to do.

 

The Lord hath said “I’ll make them one,
As I command let it be done;
For a short work I now will make,
And Israel from the heathen take.”

 

“To their own lands on mountains high,
I’ll bring them with a watchful eye;
To them the kingdom I’ll restore
And be their king forever more.

 

The book of Jasher has been found,
And many more hid in the ground;
All these, with Enoch’s book, unfold
And spread true light from pole to pole.

 

Those things are true we testify,
And all who do with them comply,
Will in eternity rejoice,
That they have made so wise a choice

 

 

 

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