By Marvin Cowan
In our last article on Doctrine and Covenants (D. & C.) 124, George Miller and Lyman Wight were the subjects. D. & C. 124: 22-23 says they along with John Snider and others are to “build a house unto my name, such a one as my servant Joseph (Smith) shall show unto them, upon the place which he shall show unto them also. And it shall be for a house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; therefore let it be a good house worthy of all acceptation that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord; and the cornerstone I have appointed for Zion.” Then in verses 56-60 “the Lord” said to Joseph Smith, “And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation. For this anointing have I put upon his head, that his blessing shall also be put upon the head of his posterity after him. And as I said unto Abraham concerning the kindreds of the earth, even so I say unto my servant Joseph: In thee and in thy seed shall the kindred of the earth be blessed. Therefore, let my servant Joseph and his seed after him have place in that house, from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord. And let the name of that house be called Nauvoo House; and let it be a delightful habitation for man, and a resting-place for the weary traveler, that he may contemplate the glory of Zion, and the glory of this, the corner-stone thereof.”
Smith said he received this revelation on January 19, 1841 and a month later on February 23, 1841 an “Act to Incorporate the Nauvoo House Association” was signed by the Governor of Illinois. Section one said, “Be it enacted by the people of the state of Illinois, represented in general assembly, that George Miller, Lyman Wight, John Snider, and Peter Haws, and their associates, are hereby declared a body corporate, under the name and style of the ‘Nauvoo House Association;’ and they are authorized to erect and furnish a public house of entertainment, to be called the ‘Nauvoo House’” (History of the Church, vol. IV, p. 301). The Church History in the Fulness of Times says on page 243 that “The cornerstone of the building (Nauvoo House) was laid on 2 October 1841.” Little is recorded about the Nauvoo House or the Association responsible to build it until 1844. Then Lyman Wight, one of the men responsible for building the Nauvoo House wrote to the LDS First Presidency on February 15, 1844 and said, “Having also become convinced that the Church at Nauvoo or in the Eastern States will not build the Nauvoo House according to the commandment, neither the Temple in a reasonable time…”(History of the Church, vol. VI, p. 256). The Church History in the Fulness of Times says Joseph Smith “The Prophet considered the construction of the Nauvoo House hotel nearly as urgent as construction of the temple…In March 1844 Joseph Smith postponed further construction on the hotel in order to press forward on the temple” (p. 243). And on May 3, 1844, Brigham Young and Willard Richards wrote a letter to Reuben Hedlock saying, “We have dropped the Nauvoo House until the Temple can be completed and the Temple is going finely” (History of the Church, vol. VI, p. 353). An official publication of the LDS Church entitled The Restored Church says of the Nauvoo House, “The building was never completed as originally
designed, the martyrdom of the Prophet and the contemplated exodus West causing a change in plans. The part completed is still standing in Nauvoo not far from the Mansion House; but it has been changed to make a dwelling” (page 160).
Obviously, what “the Lord” said about the Nauvoo House in D. & C. 124 did not happen! The Nauvoo House was never finished as a “boarding house,” so it never became a place for boarding strangers. In D. & C. 124:59 the Lord said, “Let my servant Joseph Smith and his seed after him have place in that house, from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord.” But even that part of the Nauvoo House that briefly became a private home wasn’t built while Joseph Smith was alive, so he never lived in it! After the LDS moved west, Emma Smith (Joseph’s wife) lived in it for a short time, but the rest of the time it has sat empty. The RLDS Church (now called the Community of Christ) later bought the Nauvoo House but it is still not occupied, so Smith’s descendants did not live in it forever and ever as “the Lord” said they would. D. & C. 124:74 also says, “Therefore, I say unto you concerning my servant Vinson Knight, if he will do my will let him put stock into that (Nauvoo) House for himself, and for his generation after him, from generation to generation.” But Vinson Knight died on July 31, 1842, just nine months after the cornerstone of the Nauvoo House was laid (H. of C. vol. V, p. 84). He never even saw the part of the Nauvoo House that was later built, so if he put stock in it, it didn’t do him, his family or his descendants any good! So, was it really “the Lord’s will” that Vinson Knight put stock in the Nauvoo House? And was this “revelation really from the Lord?” D. & C. 3:1-3 says, “The works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught. For God doth not walk in crooked paths…neither doth he vary from that which he hath said…Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of man.” Was the Nauvoo House the work of man or God? D. & C. 1:37 also says, “Search these commandments for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” Were “the Lord’s” prophecies and promises in D. & C. 124 all fulfilled? The people mentioned in this “revelation” all died more than a hundred fifty years ago, so it is too late for them! So, was this “revelation” from God or from Joseph Smith?