Learning to Love
Doctrine and Covenants

Sections 79 and 80: The Call to Preach By Michael J. Preece

Sections 79 and 80: The Call to Preach

In March 1832 some elders were called on missions. Jared Carter was called to go to the Eastern states. He was one of the Colesville saints and had joined the Church in New York sometime in February 1831. The following spring he left his farm in Chenango, New York, near Colesville and moved with the saints to Ohio. Settling first in Thompson, Ohio, he later moved to Amherst, about fifty miles west of Kirtland, to be near his brother Simeon. In June 1831 the Lord directed that Carter be ordained a priest (see D&C 52:38), and he was ordained an elder sometime before September of that year. He served six months and two days, keeping a meticulous journal all during his mission. He served mostly in New York and New Jersey and baptized ninety-eight converts.

Section 79 was received by the Prophet on March 12, 1832 in Hiram, Ohio. Jared Carter did record the following details in his journal: “I at length went to Hiram to the Seer to inquire the will of the Lord concerning my ministry the ensuing season and the word of the Lord came forth that showed that it was his will that I should go forth to the Eastern countries in the power of the ordinance wherewith I had been ordained which was to the high privilege of administering in the name of Jesus Christ even to seal on earth and to build up the Church of Christ and to work miracles in the name of Christ” (cited in Woodford, Historical Development, 2:1005; spelling and capitalization standardized).

Section 79

1 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that my servant Jared Carter should go again into the eastern countries, from place to place, and from city to city, in the power of the ordination wherewith he has been ordained, proclaiming glad tidings of great joy, even the everlasting gospel.

verse 1 “Jared Carter should go again into the eastern countries” After moving to the west the previous year, Jared is called to return to the east as a missionary to his former neighbors and others as directed by the Spirit.

“in the power of the ordination” Those who hold the priesthood are God’s agents and have been authorized to borrow his power. They are expected to use that power as God would: to bless, preach, perform ordinances, etc. When a priesthood holder is asked to give a blessing, he should not merely pray that God will bestow a blessing. The appointed agent having the necessary power should bestow the blessing in the name of Jesus Christ. That which God has delegated to his servants, they should perform in confidence and power, and not delegate back to him by merely praying that God will do something. There is a critical difference between blessing “in the power of the ordination” and merely praying for a blessing.

2 And I will send upon him the Comforter, which shall teach him the truth and the way whither he shall go;

verse 2 “the way whither he shall go” Jared Carter was to keep moving and to travel as directed by the Spirit. His journal shows great determination on his part to travel to the major cities in New York, as directed in verse 1, “from city to city.”

3 And inasmuch as he is faithful, I will crown him again with sheaves. verse 3 “I will crown him again with sheaves” See the commentary for D&C 75:5.

4 Wherefore, let your heart be glad, my servant Jared Carter, and fear not, saith your Lord, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Stephen Burnett and Eden Smith were also called to preach. Their call was a missionary-at-large type call: “Go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not.” Not only were they allowed to go where they wanted, but they were also promised success regardless: “ye cannot go amiss.”

Stephen Burnett was converted to the Church by late November 1830 in Orange, Ohio, by John Murdock, who had himself been a member of the Church, at that time, less than one month. The important church conference held on October 25-26, 1831, at which the first high priests were ordained, met at the Burnett home in Orange, Ohio. Among the high priests ordained there was seventeen-year-old Stephen Burnett.

On January 25, 1832, Burnett was called to serve a mission with Ruggles Eames, although that mission either did not take place or was of very short duration, since Burnett is called here two months later to serve a mission with Eden Smith. Burnett also preached for awhile in New Hampshire with Horace Cowan during the summer of 1833. By 1837, however, Burnett had come out in opposition to the Prophet Joseph and was excommunicated on December 3, 1838.

Eden Smith was also an Ohio resident who joined the Church in 1831 at the age of twenty-four. He served several short missions in 1831 and 1832, but his style was to preach for a short period of time and then return home to work and be with his family.

Section 80 was received March 7, 1832. Chronologically this would actually place section 80 five days earlier than section 79, which was received on March 12. Section 80 was first published in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.

Section 80

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Stephen Burnett: Go ye, go ye into the world and preach the gospel to every creature that cometh under the sound of your voice.

verse 1 “preach the gospel to every creature” Missionaries are called to preach to any individual who will listen. Neither social status, nor education, nor nationality, nor financial status, nor any other factor should cause the missionary to ignore his or her Heavenly Father’s children when called to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Without restriction, all who will hear are invited, all who will repent are called, and all who will obey are chosen.

2 And inasmuch as you desire a companion, I will give unto you my servant Eden Smith.

3 Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.

verse 3 “it mattereth not” See the introductory commentary for this section. Once again, we are reminded that there are some decisions that just do not matter in the great scheme of things. There are some decisions in life for which there is no right or wrong answer. It might additionally be noted that the opportunities to preach the gospel are so abundant that one cannot go amiss wherever one chooses to labor. Both the righteous and the wicked in all the earth must be warned (see also the commentary for D&C 60:5).

4 Therefore, declare the things which ye have heard, and verily believe, and know to be true.

verse 4 “declare the things which ye . . . know to be true” The power of the Spirit can best work through us when we actually have spiritual testimonies ourselves. Then, as we teach the investigator, the Spirit may bear witness to both us and the investigator simultaneously. One heart then may bear witness to another heart and the two may “rejoice together” (D&C 50:22). When the Spirit bears witness to the missionary as he or she teaches a gospel principle, then the chance that the investigator will also feel the Spirit’s influence is maximized. In this way, teaching the gospel differs drastically from teaching secular concepts.

5 Behold, this is the will of him who hath called you, your Redeemer, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

- Michael J. Preece