The Law of Succession- Part Three (Hyrum was Commissioned to Reform the Church)

If He Abide in Me

In part two of this series we discussed the prophetic role of Hyrum Smith.

We addressed his calling by revelation in section 124 to act in concert with Joseph Smith as a prophet seer and revelator.

Shortly thereafter his calling to be a prophet of the church in section 124, Joseph made a public declaration in a church conference that Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church and that Joseph was not going to prophesy any more. 

By the time Joseph had made that announcement the heavens had already begun to close over his head. It had been nearly two years since he had received section 124 and he had not received canonized revelation concerning the church since that time, although some of his epistles have since been entered into the D&C.

The calling of Hyrum Smith to be a prophet seer and revelator to the church in concert with Joseph Smith and the declaration at the church conference that Joseph would no longer prophesy to the church represented a literal fulfillment of the succession prophecy in section 43.

The Lord was replacing Joseph with Hyrum as the prophet of the church.


Because according to section 43, if Joseph ever revealed his own successor by revelation, it would be because Joseph was no longer going to be “abiding in the Lord“.

And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.”

Clearly, the unconditional prophecy in section 43 states that no one else was to be appointed to receive commandments and revelations for the church until Joseph Smith was taken by the Lord, UNLESS Joseph fails to ABIDE in the Lord!

And yet, if Joseph fails to abide in the Lord, necessitating a successor, it would be Joseph himself that would still be given power to appoint another to succeed him, by revelation.

So strange was the wording and apparent chronology of events pertaining to that prophecy that it hardly made sense how Joseph could reveal his successor if indeed he was no longer abiding in the Lord!

It is only in hindsight that it all makes sense how this strange phenomena took place.

Remarkably, before the Lord gave the succession prophecy in section 43, containing the key word “abide”, he had already informed the church in a canonized revelation pertaining to the calling of Sidney Rigdon in section 35, that if Joseph fails to abide in the Lord, he will plant another in his stead-

“And I have sent forth the fulness of my gospel by the hand of my servant Joseph; and in weakness have I blessed him;

And I have given unto him the keys of the mystery of those things which have been sealed, even things which were from the foundation of the world, and the things which shall come from this time until the time of my coming, if he abide in me, and if not, another will I plant in his stead.

Wherefore, watch over him that his faith fail not, and it shall be given by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, that knoweth all things.”


The Lord was making it pretty obvious that Joseph was eventually going to stop abiding in the Lord.

Once the saints received the fulness of the gospel back in Kirtland, they had to either progress, receive the spiritual rebirth and become a Zion people OR the Lords Spirit was to withdraw and not abide with them.

There are multiple examples in the scriptures of times when the spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn from God’s people.

Notice the words of the prophet Mormon as he describes how the spirit of the Lord had ceased to abide with his people-

And it came to pass that when they had fled we did pursue them with our armies, and did meet them again, and did beat them; nevertheless the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the Lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren.

27 And my heart did sorrow because of this the great calamity of my people, because of their wickedness and their abominations…”

Less than three months after the Melchizedek priesthood was restored and the 23 newly ordained High Priests went on missions, preaching the fulness of the gospel on their way to the land of Zion, the Lord made the following ominous declaration

I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth…

That is how quickly the Lord can determine if the world is going to respond to the fulness of the gospel. God was withdrawing his spirit from the world because of their cumulative rejection of the fulness of the gospel!

Inhabitants of the earth” is all encompassing. The Spirit of the Lord was being somewhat withheld even from the saints who are part of the inhabitants of the world. This explains why even during the 3 to 3 ½ years that the saints were trying to comprehend the greater light that very few miracles and spiritual endowments were actually being enjoyed.

The Intercessory Atonement Offering

Why was Joseph no longer going to be abiding in the Lord?

It would be easy and logical to write Joseph Smith off as a fallen prophet because of his own personal sins, like many people were doing during the last years of his life, however if we dig a little deeper there is another reason why Joseph was not able to abide in the Lord.

This topic has been addressed in detail in another article which can be read here

To summarize, it was because the saints had rejected the fulness of the gospel/priesthood and that resulted in their sins being placed upon the heads of Joseph and several of his brethren.

Joseph and some of his brethren, like Moses and Aaron of old, provided an intercessory atonement offering for the latter day saints so that the Lord would not destroy them from off of the face of the earth!

You will recall that after the children of Israel rejected the higher law, God was going to destroy them from off of the face of the earth, but Moses interceded for them and made an intercessory atonement offering for them in their behalf.

Because of the atonement that Moses offered in their behalf, the Lord prolonged their days upon the earth.

As an atonement offering, Moses and Aaron took upon themselves the sins of Israel and as a result, Moses sinned the same sin against the Lord. He got involved in idolatry just like the children of Israel did. He took credit for a miracle instead of giving credit to the Lord as the Lord had commanded him to do. This action encouraged the sin of Idolatry among the children of Israel.

His punishment for acting out the sins that were artificially placed upon his head, was death and he was prohibited from crossing over into the promised land with Israel.

His atonement offering prevented him from abiding in the Lord for a season.

Nevertheless, the Lord continued to love his servant Moses as one of the greatest prophets.

The atonement offering that Moses made was a type and shadow of the offering that would be made by the latter day prophet that would be “like Moses”. Joseph Smith made a similar intercessory offering in behalf of latter day Israel.

You can read about the atonement statute that provides a prophetic enactment of the latter day atonement in Leviticus 16.

Sometime after the rejection of the fulness of the gospel by the gentile church, Joseph offered himself as an offering and the Lord acknowledged and accepted it in the first verse of section 124.

VERILY, thus saith the Lord unto you, my servant Joseph Smith, I am well pleased with your offering and acknowledgments, which you have made; for unto this end have I raised you up, that I might show forth my wisdom through the weak things of the earth.”

Hyrum Attempts to Reform the Church

In the last installment of this series we also briefly discussed the reformation that was offered to the saints in Nauvoo.

You simply cannot make sense of the succession crisis in Nauvoo until you understand the reformation prophecy.

In 1829 the Lord prophesied that the saints would need to have a reformation at a future time.

And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a REFORMATION among them… ,

And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan..”

Again, one December 5th 1834, the Lord acknowledges that the leaders and the saints were under condemnations and needed to reform in all things.

‘Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Church, and to be saviors of men; and also upon the Church; and there must needs be a repentance and a REFORMATION among you, in all things..” (Unpublished revelations Pg 73)

Finally, On July 16th 1843, nearly 10 years later, The prophet Joseph Smith “stated that Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church … &he was going to have a REFORMATION and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority

The 1828 Websters Dictionary tells us that reformation is “The act of reforming; correction or amendment of life, manners, or of anything vicious or corrupt…

It further informs us that to Reform is to “restore to a former good state” and to abandon that which is evil or corrupt, and return to a good state”

The purpose of the Nauvoo era under the direction of the Prophet Hyrum Smith, was not to introduce contradictory esoteric doctrines, covenants and rituals that contradicted earlier revelations but rather to return the church back to the pure and simple doctrines of salvation that were originally taught in the early years of the restoration movement.

Probably the primary single most profound thing Hyrum began doing to reform the church and restore the church to it’s former state was to try and stamp out the practice of polygamy and the spiritual wife doctrine that had taken root in the church.

He began doing this before he was the sole president of the church.

There are many documented historical journal entries and public admissions from the Nauvoo era that document Hyrum’s campaign against polygamy and the spiritual wife doctrine.

Even the Brighamites admit that Hyrum stubbornly rejected the spiritual wife doctrine at first.

They claim however that Hyrum finally embraced it.

Others like Richard and Pamela Price make a compelling case for the fact that the spurious information about Hyrum eventually entering into polygamy was a fabrication and that he held true to the foundational doctrines of gospel law.

It is not the purpose of this series to try to prove of disprove whether Hyrum finally embraced polygamy or the spiritual wife doctrine. One can make a compelling case either way. (It appears to me that he begrudgingly did)

What we do know is that publicly, both Joseph and Hyrum were preaching against the doctrines of polygamy and spiritual wifery.

By February 1, 1844, they had cut off Elder Hiram Brown from the Church for, among other things, “preaching Polygamy.” They published the following announcement to the Saints:


As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching Polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.

Presidents of said Church.
(Times and Seasons 5 [February 1, 1844]: 423)”

Following that event, Hyrum heard rumors from Richard Hewitt that elders had been preaching about polygamy in outlying branches and claiming that it was being lived in Nauvoo. Hyrum immediately wrote the following letter to the brethren in China Creek

Nauvoo, March 15,1844.

To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting:—Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me today, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here [at Nauvoo]: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practised here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about….

“Hyrum Smith addresses conference “on Spiritual wife system. The first one we heard reporting such stories we will report him in the Time[s] and Seasons to come and give up his licence. He was decided against it in every form and spoke at length.” (April 8 1844)

There are several dairies that make mention of the April 1844 conference wherein Hyrum spoke against polygamy and spiritual wifery.

“Elder Levi Graybill, who joined the Church in 1833, and was with the Saints at Kirtland, Ohio; Independence and Far West, Missouri; and at Nauvoo testified that he heard President Hyrum Smith speak against polygamy at the April 1844 Church Conference. Elder Graybill wrote:

I was present at the April conference in Nauvoo in 1844….

I was well acquainted with Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and most all of the early leaders of the church…. At the conference of April, 1844, Hyrum Smith said from the stand that some had been teaching spiritual wifery, which meant polygamy, and addressing the sisters he said: “If any man makes such a proposition to you, if you will put a dagger to his heart I will plead your cause in the day of judgment.” (Journal of History 4 [January 1911]: 108) ”

Again, the Brighamite faction that went to Utah concede that Hyrum was “stubbornly” against polygamy when he was made a prophet of the church but they claim he was eventually persuaded by Joseph and that he was living a dual life, publicly speaking against it and even excommunicating people for practicing it while secretly living it.

It is difficult to believe that this man with “integrity of heart ” according to the Lord, was such a hypocrite as to publicly testify against the practice of polygamy and excommunicating people for preaching about it, while privately engaging in it. But again, if that did happen, it fits with the atonement prophecy in Leviticus 16.

Whether Hyrum did or did not finally fall into a darkened state or not before he was killed with Joseph, really is not of huge consequence in understanding the truth and in understanding the controversy in Nauvoo because we have indisputable proof that section 132 is contrary to sections 42, 49 and 101 (the Article on Marriage).

If Hyrum did transgress and eventually begin practicing the spiritual wifery, it would be consistent with his part in the prophetic atonement statute that Joseph, Oliver, Sidney and Hyrum all play a part in.

(Later in this series we will show that the campaign to reform the church was taken up by another member of the first presidency. That story is a facinating one that may surprise you)

The Prophet Oliver Cowdery

There is a very interesting statement in the section 124 regarding the relationship between the calling of Hyrum Smith during the Nauvoo era, and the previous calling of Oliver Cowdery during the Kirtland era-

And from this time forth I appoint unto him [Hyrum] that he may be a prophet, and a seer, and a revelator unto my church, as well as my servant Joseph;

95 That he may act in concert also with my servant Joseph; and that he shall receive counsel from my servant Joseph, who shall show unto him the keys whereby he may ask and receive, and be crowned with the same blessing, and glory, and honor, and priesthood, and gifts of the priesthood, that once were put upon him that was my servant Oliver Cowdery;

From that passage we are informed that Oliver Cowdery was not just the co-presiding elder of the church back in Kirtland, he was also a prophet, seer and revelator.

In section 124, Hyrum Smith was being given the same blessing, glory, honor, priesthood and gifts of the priesthood that had been put upon Oliver Cowdery!

[Editorial Note: “President Joseph Fielding Smith once “said that if Oliver Cowdery had not apostatized from the church, it would have been him (Oliver) instead of Hyrum who would have died with Joseph Smith in Carthage jail to seal their testimony with their blood.” (ref)]

Hyrum was actually being acknowledged in section 124 in two separate and distinct callings.

The first calling the Lord gave to Hyrum was the “office of priesthood and patriarch“. It was given according to blessing and right. Apparently he had right to by lineage as the eldest living son of joseph Smith Sr but he was also being ordained.

That made him the patriarch over the entire church. Obviously, the priesthood being referenced was the patriarchal Abrahamic priesthood. This was the priesthood which applies to the restoration brought about by Peter James and John.

That was the priesthood that was governing the church now that the fulness of the Melchizedek priesthood had been lost from the earth.

Because of this, Hyrum held the keys of the patriarchal blessing upon the church-

And again, verily I say unto you, let my servant William be appointed, ordained, and anointed, as counselor unto my servant Joseph, in the room of my servant Hyrum, that my servant Hyrum may take the office of Priesthood and Patriarch, which was appointed unto him by his father, by blessing and also by right;

That from henceforth he shall hold the keys of the patriarchal blessings upon the heads of all my people,

That whoever he blesses shall be blessed, and whoever he curses shall be cursed; that whatsoever he shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever he shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (see 124:92-93)

Most Mormons probably interpret the above passages to refer to patriarchal blessings which tell people about their tribal lineage, etc. however it really refers to holding all the keys of the kingdom, ie, keys of the saving ordinances of the church. (see Matthew 16:19 and Abraham 2:6-11)

The second calling that Hyrum was being called to function in was the calling of prophet seer and revelator in the church. He appears to be filling the vacancy left by Oliver Cowdery.

From section 124 we are informed that Oliver had previously been called to be a prophet seer and revelator just like Joseph.

Although the sanitized history of the Church greatly downplays the role and position of Oliver Cowdery in the early days of the LDS restoration, we know that Oliver saw the face of Christ.

We also know that Oliver was given the spiritual gift of being able to translate and use a seer stone and/or urim and thummim.

Although his faith failed him when he tried to translate part of the Book of Mormon, nevertheless, the Lord told him he had the gift and that he would translate at a future time in the 3rd watch.

As a prophet and co-presiding elder of the church, Oliver brought forth some of the revelations in the D&C.

Although Oliver was a prophet seer and revelator just like Joseph Smith, there were restrictions on how he could use his spiritual gifts as a prophet, seer and revelator regarding the church.

He was not commissioned to receive new doctrine and commandments for the church, rather, it was his calling to expound on existing doctrine that had previously been revealed in the ancient scriptures and modern revelation.

“BEHOLD, I say unto thee, Oliver, that it shall be given unto thee that thou shalt be heard by the church in all things whatsoever thou shalt teach them by the Comforter, concerning the revelations and commandments which I have given.

But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses.

And thou shalt be obedient unto the things which I shall give unto him, even as Aaron, to declare faithfully the commandments and the revelations, with power and authority unto the church.

And if thou art led at any time by the Comforter to speak or teach, or at all times by the way of commandment unto the church, thou mayest do it.

But thou shalt not write by way of commandment, but by wisdom;

The spiritual gift of wisdom listed in section 46 verse 17 was one of the gifts that Oliver had been given-

“And again, verily I say unto you, to some is given, by the Spirit of God, the word of wisdom.”

Using the spiritual gift of wisdom, Oliver was to teach and expound on previous revelations and commandments by the power of the Comforter.

There are two amazing sections in the D&C that were written by Oliver Cowdery under the spiritual gift of wisdom, by the power of the comforter.

The first was known as the “Articles and Covenants of the Church” (section 20 )

That section, received by the Prophet Oliver Cowdery, along with the “Law of the church” in section 42, received through the prophet Joseph Smith, were the two most important revelations in laying the foundation of the LDS restoration, the restoration of the church and the establishing of missionary work.

The word of wisdom received by Oliver Cowdery in section 20 does not reveal any new doctrine, rather it expounds on the covenants of the church using existing scriptures.

Interestingly, in section 20 we are informed that there are three ways that true revelation can be received-

1- By the Voice of God

2- The ministering of Angels

3- The Holy Ghost

(see 20:35)




Once a person gains an understanding and testimony that all of the saving ordinances and covenants of the fulness of the gospel are identified in sections 20 and 42, they can easily identify the false covenants, commandments and rituals that were being secretly introduced into the church during the apostate Nauvoo era and they can understand why the Lord commissioned the prophet Hyrum Smith to lead a reformation.

There is another “word of wisdom” revelation that Oliver had produced. One that was canonized 1835 and remained in the D&C until 1876, one year before Brigham young died.

This revelation was accepted by the church through the law of common consent and Joseph Smith never challenged it.

This revelation by Oliver Cowdery that was also canonized in the D&C was the “Article on Marriage“.

This amazing section simply expounded on the existing doctrine of marriage that had been revealed in the Bible, Book of Mormon and modern revelation

Although LDS fundamentalists are quick to point out that Joseph was not at the meeting when this section was voted on and they try to imply that Joseph did not endorse it, the fact remains that during the next nine years, Joseph never publicly challenged it or attempted to take it out of the D&C.

More importantly, the Lord endorsed all of the sections in the D&C, including the Article on Marriage, that had been publicly published and canonized by 1841-

And again, verily I say unto you, let no man pay stock to the quorum of the Nauvoo House unless he shall be a believer in the Book of Mormon, and the revelations I have given unto you, saith the Lord your God” ( 124:119)

The above passage demonstrates that God was pleased with all of the canonized revelations in the D&C, including the Article on Marriage at the time when section 124 was given.

The Article on Marriage

Oliver was given the privilege of expounding on existing doctrine to the church.

That is what he was doing when he received both the Articles and Covenants of the Church (section 20) and also the Article on Marriage (section 101 before it was taken out of the D&C)

Compare the two following passages of scripture that had been given in sections 42 and 49 with the third passage from the Article on Marriage-

Section 42

Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else.

And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out.

Thou shalt not commit adultery; and he that committeth adultery, and repenteth not, shall be cast out.” (42:22)

Section 49

“And again, verily I say unto you, that whoso forbiddeth to marry is not ordained of God, for marriage is ordained of God unto man.

Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation;

And that it might be filled with the measure of man, according to his creation before the world was made.” (49:15-17)

The Article on Marriage (101)

Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband,
except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”
(Section 101:4 1835 edition)

Again, Oliver Cowdery wasn’t revealing new scripture or new doctrine, he was simply using his spiritual gift of wisdom in expounding on existing scripture and doctrine.

From the mouth of three witnesses, provided in canonized revelations that were accepted by the law of common consent, it was revealed during the early Kirtland years that the fulness of the gospel requires a man to have only one wife.

Amazingly, the article on marriage by Oliver Cowdery remained in all versions of the D&C from 1835 until about 1877 when Brigham Young finally had it expelled from the D&C and replaced by the heretical abomination now known as section 132.

Despite the fact that sections 42, 49 and 101 all testified of the requirement of the gospel law of monogamy during the Nauvoo years, the darkened minds of many of the saints in Nauvoo began participating in the secret practice of spiritual wifery.

In hindsight it is interesting to go back to section 38 when the Lord promised the saints that the law of the gospel that would be given in Kirtland to enable them to escape the power of the enemy-

And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—

Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the Ohio; and there I will give unto you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high

Also contained in that revelation the Lord gave a veiled prophecy that the gentile church would become prideful and would take on the same sin of polygamy which was instrumental in bringing the prideful Nephite nation to ruin-

“And if ye seek the riches which it is the will of the Father to give unto you, ye shall be the richest of all people, for ye shall have the riches of eternity; and it must needs be that the riches of the earth are mine to give; but beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.”

It was the sin of pride that led the Nephites into the practice of polygamy.

It was the practice of polygamy that led to the destruction of the Nephite nation after they rejected the fulness of the gospel.

The reformation that Hyrum attempted to conduct began with his attempt to get back to the pure and simple law of the gospel which included the celestial law of monogamy.


How is it possible that many of the largest factions of the latter day restoration, including the one led by the majority of the quorum of the twelve apostles who held the mandate to publish the Book of Mormon and the modern words of Christ to the world, would be seduced into believing a different gospel?

How could they embrace a different new and everlasting covenant which was out of harmony with the true new and everlasting covenant. (see isa 24:5-6)

How could they reject the celestial law of monogamy after it had been so well documented in ancient and modern revelation?

Unfortunately, the Prophet Hyrum Smith was unable to reform the church during the 2nd watch.

In the next installment we shall review Joseph Smith’s frantic attempt to repent just before his death and we shall dissect the amazing information revealed in the excommunication trial of the Prophet Sidney Rigdon.


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