Section 126: Brigham Young
Section 126 is a revelation given to Joseph regarding Brigham Young. It was received in Brigham’s house on July 9, 1841.
Brigham was recognized as being a great man from practically the moment of his conversion in 1832. That same year, Joseph said of Brigham: “A time will come when Brother Brigham will preside over this Church” (Whitney, History of Utah, volume 1, 112). Please review the Character Vignette on Brigham Young located between sections 112 and 113.
Brigham was called on a mission in 1832 to Canada. He served from December 1832 to February 1833. He completed a second mission in Canada between April and August of 1833. In the summer of 1833 he traveled to Kirtland with several of his Canadian converts, where he heard Joseph Smith teach about the gathering, emphasizing that building the kingdom of God required more than just preaching. Thus instructed, Brigham returned to New York and, with the Heber C. Kimballs, moved his household to Kirtland so he could participate in building a new society.
Among those whom Brigham met in Kirtland was Mary Ann Angell, a native of Seneca, Ontario County, New York, who had worked in a factory in Providence, Rhode Island, until her conversion to the Church and move to Kirtland. Brigham married her on February 18, 1834. She looked after Brigham’s two daughters by Miriam and subsequently had six children of her own.
In 1834 Brigham responded to the call to join Zion’s Camp. In February 1835 he was called to be a member of the church’s first Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He fulfilled a mission in the eastern states in the summer of 1835. In 1837 he served two separate missions to the eastern states. He traveled to Great Britain in September 1839 to preach the gospel. He returned on July 1, 1841, with Heber C. Kimball and John Taylor, and he received this revelation some eight days later.
Almost all Brigham Young had done since he joined the Church was serve one mission after another. He had been away from his home almost the entire nine years he had been in the Church. He had served faithfully and well.
In 1836 Joseph had beheld in vision the sacrifices and privations that Brigham and the other apostles would suffer in their missionary experiences. Joseph wrote:
I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold him. The Savior looked upon them and wept. . . . Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God was standing above his head, with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it (HC, 2:381).
The Lord told Brigham in section 126 that he would not be required to leave his family again. The Lord had seen and accepted his offering. He had paid the price. Henceforth, Brigham will “send” rather than “take” the Lord’s word abroad. Brigham never filled another proselyting mission after this revelation. He did, however, travel for the Church in other capacities.
The real significance of the Lord’s command for Brigham to remain at Nauvoo was made clear the following month at a general conference of the Church. Since the organization of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1835, they had served primarily as a traveling council. At that conference on August 16, 1841, Joseph announced “that the time had come when the Twelve should be called upon to ‘stand in their place’ [rather than travel] next to the First Presidency” and direct the church’s affairs from home so they would “have an opportunity of providing something for themselves and [their] families” (HC, 4:403). By keeping them “in their place next to the First Presidency,” the Prophet was preparing the way for the Twelve, with Brigham as President, to preside over the Church at the time of Joseph’s death.
Brigham Young was obviously a “man for his time” and a “lion of the Lord,” and he was groomed by the Lord for what he later did in the Church.
D&C 126 Brigham Young
1 Dear and well-beloved brother, Brigham Young, verily thus saith the Lord unto you: My servant Brigham, it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past, for your offering is acceptable to me.
verse 1 “it is no more required at your hand to leave your family as in times past” Although Brigham served two short missions after the reception of this revelation (July to September 1843 to the Eastern States to solicit funds for the Nauvoo Temple and May to July 1844 in connection with Joseph Smith’s candidacy for president of the United States), this was the last time Brigham Young would be required by the Lord to travel extensively on missions. He was to remain at home, close to Joseph Smith, to be trained and prepared for his future role as the leader of the Church. Less than two years later, Joseph and Hyrum Smith will be killed and the mantle of leadership will fall upon the president of the Quorum of the Twelve, Brigham Young. This period of nearly three years, July 1841 to June 1844, was very important in the training and understanding that would come to the future church president.
2 I have seen your labor and toil in journeyings for my name.
3 I therefore command you to send my word abroad, and take especial care of your family from this time, henceforth and forever. Amen.
verse 3 “send my word abroad” Brigham became president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles after Thomas B. March apostatized in 1838 and was excommunicated in March 1839. As such, it was President Young’s responsibility to direct the work of the Quorum, which centered on being special witnesses of the name of Jesus Christ in all the world, and to hold the keys (under the direction of the First Presidency of the Church) “to open the door by the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ” to the world (D&C 107:35).
Brief Historical Setting
During the winter of 1841-42, Joseph completed his “translation” of the The Book of Abraham utilizing an Egyptian papyrus which he had obtained in 1835 when a man named Michael Chandler appeared in Kirtland to exhibit some Egyptian mummies. Chandler’s traveling display included not only four mummies, but some two or more rolls of papyrus covered with hieroglyphics. Joseph’s reputation as one who might be able to translate ancient Egyptian documents led to Chandler’s approaching Joseph. Chandler, who was from Philadelphia, had somehow obtained these ancient artifacts after they had been discovered by an Italian explorer named Antonio Lebolo. The Church purchased the mummies and papyri from Mr. Chandler for twenty-four hundred dollars. Using these papyri Joseph was able to write an account of Abraham written while Abraham was in Egypt. From time to time, Joseph worked on this “translation.” It was finally completed in March 1842 and published in the Times and Seasons under the title of “The Book of Abraham.”
In the spring of 1842, the editor of the Chicago Democrat, a man named John Wentworth, requested that Joseph write a statement of the history and doctrine of the Church. This statement was requested on behalf of a friend of Wentworth’s who was writing a history of the state of New Hampshire. Responding to this request, Joseph wrote a letter which we have come to call the “Wentworth Letter.” Beginning with his own birth in 1805, it traces the development of the restored Church and then briefly summarizes the doctrine of the Church in thirteen simple statements. These thirteen statements have now been extracted from the Wentworth Letter, separated, numbered, given the title “Articles of Faith,” and canonized as scripture in our Pearl of Great Price.
On May 4, 1842, Joseph gathered some of the brethren in the upper story of his red brick store and taught them some of the temple ordinances including the endowment. In addition to its use as an endowment house, Joseph’s red brick store was also the meeting place for the Nauvoo Lodge of Free Masons. Here also, Joseph had his private office where he translated most of the book of Abraham, where he received revelations, and where the revelation on “celestial marriage” was committed to writing.
An attempt was made in Missouri to assassinate the ex-Governor Lilburn W. Boggs on May 6, 1842. On that particular evening, Boggs was seated in his home. The would-be assassin fired a pistol filled with buckshot through a window, dropped the pistol outside the window, left his footprints in the dirt, and fled. The ex-Governor sustained non-fatal wounds to his head. The Mormons were accused of the crime. Specifically, it was suggested that Joseph Smith had ordered Orrin Porter Rockwell to make the attempt on Boggs’ life. When he had recovered, Boggs asked the Governor of Missouri, Thomas Reynolds, to request the extradition of the suspects. Governor Carlin of Illinois, now an enemy of the saints, issued a warrant for the arrest of Rockwell as principle and Joseph as accessory before the fact. Accordingly, on August 8, 1842, an officer from Adams County arrested the two. They were then left in the custody of the Nauvoo city marshal and allowed to go about their business while the state officer returned to Adams County. Before he returned to take possession of the prisoners, it was decided that because the tide of public opinion was decidedly against the Mormons, that the two could never receive a fair trial in Missouri. Thus, they went into seclusion. They crossed the river to the Iowa side and returned to Nauvoo some days later. When the arresting officer returned to Nauvoo, Joseph and Porter “could not be located.”
There was much fear, among the saints, that the Prophet may be kidnapped and taken back to Missouri. The Prophet thus felt it unwise to appear in public. Joseph remained in seclusion during the remainder of 1842. He lived quietly with various of the saints in Nauvoo, and the saints cooperated in keeping his place of abode a secret as he moved from home to home. From his place of concealment, he was able to administer the affairs of the Church, and he even appeared in public on several occasions.
In September 1842, pressures were becoming so intense that Joseph had decided to leave Nauvoo for a brief time to allow them to subside. Before leaving, he wrote two letters to the Church during the first week in September on the subject of baptism for the dead. These letters have been preserved for us in the Doctrine and Covenants [D&C 127 and 128 -Baptism for the Dead].
During Joseph’s period of seclusion in the fall of 1842, several attempts were made by the law officers from Missouri to take him into custody, but all to no avail.
Finally, feeling secure that he had a firm defense against the charges of attempted murder, Joseph allowed himself to be arrested and he arrived in Springfield, Illinois, on December 30, 1842, for his trial. The charges against him were dismissed, and he was welcomed back in Nauvoo as a free man and a conquering hero.
- Michael J. Preece