The Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt –
Revised and Enhanced Edition

Edited by Scot Facer Proctor and Maurine Jensen Proctor

Chapter 9

Revelation on false spirits-Ministry among the churches-Remarkable miracle of healing-Arrival of emigrant Saints from New York-Severe disappointment.

May 1831

“Hearken, O ye Elders of my Church, and give ear, to the voice of the living God; attend to the words of wisdom which shall be given unto you, according as ye have asked and are agreed, as touching the Church, and the spirits which have gone abroad in the earth. Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world; and also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you. [1]

“Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the Church that possess [2] my name; but blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death; for they shall inherit eternal life. But woe unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment.

“Behold, I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but, behold, such shall be reclaimed; but the hypocrites shall be detected and cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and woe unto them who are cut off from my Church, for the same are overcome of the world; wherefore, let every man beware, lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me.

“And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the Elders of His Church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand: Let us
reason-even as a man reasoneth-one with another, face to face;
now, when a man reasoneth, he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you, that you may understand: wherefore, I, the Lord, asketh you this question, unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth; and then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God, and in this are ye justified? Behold, ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you, hereafter, shall be made strong.

“Verily, I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the spirit of truth, or some other way? And if it be by some other way, it be not of God. And, again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the spirit of truth, or some other way? If it be some other way, it be not of God; therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand, and know that he that receiveth the word by the spirit of truth, receiveth it as it is preached by the spirit of truth?

“Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understandeth one another, and both are edified and rejoice together; and that which doth not edify, is not of God, and is darkness; that which is of God is light, and he that receiveth light and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And, again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you; for he that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is least, and the servant of all; wherefore, he is possessor of all things, for all things are subject unto him, both in Heaven and on the earth; the life and the light, the spirit and the power sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, His Son; but no man is possessor of all things, except he be purified and cleansed from all sin; and if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus, and it shall be done; but, know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask, and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you.

“Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus, and if he give not unto you that spirit, that you may know that it is not of God; and it shall be given unto you power over that spirit, and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice, that it is not of God; not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome; neither with boasting, nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith; he that receiveth of God, let him account it of God, and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive, and by giving heed and doing these things which ye have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive, and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which is not ordained of Him; and, behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you.

“Let my servant, Joseph Wakefield, in whom I am pleased, and my servant, Parley P. Pratt, go forth among the churches and strengthen them by the word of exhortation; and also my servant, John Corrill, or as many of my servants as are ordained unto this office, and let them labor in the vineyard; and let no man hinder them of doing that which I have appointed unto them; wherefore, in this thing, my servant, Edward Partridge, is not justified; nevertheless, let him repent and he shall be forgiven. Behold, ye are little children, and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth. Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me; and none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost; and the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and, inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you; wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good Shepherd (and the stone of Israel; he that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall), [3] and the day cometh that you shall hear my voice and see me, and know that I am. Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready; even so. Amen.”

In obedience to the foregoing, Joseph Wakefield [4] and myself visited the several branches of the Church, rebuking the wrong spirits which had crept in among them, [5] setting in order things that were wanting; ordaining Elders and other officers; baptizing such as believed and repented of their sins; administering the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, in the name of Jesus Christ; laying hands on little children and blessing them; praying for the sick, and comforting the afflicted, etc. On some occasions we assembled fifty or sixty little children in one circle, in the midst of the assembly of the saints, and laid our hands upon them all, and prayed for them, and blessed them in the name of Jesus.

Thus my time passed sweetly and swiftly away for some weeks. I was sometimes in the society of President Smith, in Kirtland, and of the saints in that place, and sometimes in the branches abroad.

About this time a young lady, by the name of Chloe Smith, being a member of the Church, was lying very low with a lingering fever, with a family who occupied one of the houses on the farm of Isaac Morley, in Kirtland. Many of the Church had visited and prayed with her, but all to no effect; she seemed at the point of death, but would not consent to have a physician. This greatly enraged her relatives, who had cast her out because she belonged to the Church, and who, together with many of the people of the neighborhood, were greatly stirred up to anger, saying, “these wicked deceivers will let her lie and die without a physician, because of their superstitions; and if they do, we will prosecute them for so doing.” Now these were daily watching for her last breath, with many threats. [6]

Under these circumstances, President Smith and myself, with several other Elders called to see her. She was so low that no one had been allowed for some days previous to speak above a whisper, and even the door of the log dwelling was muffled with cloths to prevent a noise.

We kneeled down and prayed vocally all around, each in turn; after which President Smith arose, went to the bedside, took her by the hand, and said unto her with a loud voice, “in the name of Jesus Christ arise and walk!” She immediately arose, was dressed by a woman in attendance, when she walked to a chair before the fire, and was seated and joined in singing a hymn. The house was thronged with people in a few moments, and the young lady arose and shook hands with each as they came in; and from that minute she was perfectly restored to health. [7]

Some time in May, 1831, the Church arrived with their families from the State of New York, to settle in Kirtland; but, to my unexpressible disappointment, my wife had not come with them, but had gone to spend the summer in the East with her friends. It was now too late to go to her, as the time was near when I was in duty bound to return to my fellow laborers in Missouri. To be so long absent from her, and then undertake a second journey without seeing her, was a severe trial, but God gave me grace to overcome my feelings, for his sake and the gospel’s. [8]


[1] Parley is quoting what was then section 17 of the 1835 version (Kirtland edition) of the Doctrine and Covenants, which is now section 50. He wrote the text in the eight long verses as it originally appeared in both the 1835 and 1844 (Nauvoo edition) editions. Current editions have divided the section into forty-six verses. Since punctuation for Parley’s copy of the revelation conforms to neither the 1835 nor the 1844 editions, it is left intact. Parley was an eyewitness to the reception of this revelation.
[2] All published versions use the word profess instead of possess.
[3] The parenthetical offset of this statement is especially significant if Parley recorded this revelation as an eyewitness, though there is no evidence that he had stenographic skills.
[4] Joseph Wakefield (born about 1792) filled this and two other missions. He was instrumental in the conversion of George A. Smith but was later influenced by dissident Latter-day Saints in Kirtland. These dissidents claimed in 1833 and 1834 that Joseph Smith was not a true prophet because he came out of his translating room and immediately engaged in playing with children. Wakefield was a member of the committee of Kirtland citizens who attempted to defame Joseph Smith and prove the Book of Mormon was written by Solomon Spaulding. He was excommunicated in January 1834. It is ironic that Joseph Wakefield became caught up in the false spirits he had been sent to cast out (see Cook, Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 69).
[5] Church Historian John Whitmer described some who had been deceived: “Some had visions and could not tell what they saw. Some would fancy to themselves that they had the sword of Laban, and would wield it as expert as a light dragoon, some would act like an Indian in the act of scalping, some would slide or scoot on the floor, with the rapidity of a serpent, which they termed sailing in the boat to the Lamanites, preaching the gospel. And many other vain and foolish maneuvers, that are unseeming, and unprofitable to mention. Thus the devil blinded the eyes of some good and honest disciples. I write these things to show how ignorant and undiscerning children are and how easy mankind is led astray” (Whitmer, The Book of John Whitmer, 26-27).
[6] Rumors and fears had spread just a few weeks before concerning the Saints’ belief in healing because of the death of Julia Murdock, wife of John Murdock, who had passed away in childbirth on April 30, 1831. Lucy Mack Smith encountered the same sharpness from a woman on a ship bound for Michigan: “After a while she turned sharply upon me, saying, ‘Now, I don’t want to hear any more about that stuff or anything more about Joe Smith either. They say he is a Mormon prophet, but it is nothing but deception and lies. There was one Mr. Murdock who believed in Joe Smith’s doctrine; and the Mormons all think they can cure the sick and can raise the dead. So when Mr. Murdock’s wife was sick, he refused to send for a doctor, although the poor woman wanted him to do so, and so by his neglect, his wife died.’ I told her I thought she must be a little mistaken in regard to that matter for my son had taken the twins which she left, and I had an idea that I knew something near the truth of the affair. ‘I know all about it,’ said the lady” (Smith, Revised and Enhanced History of Joseph Smith, 289).

[7] This miraculous healing was similar to other healings Parley witnessed later near the shores of the Mississippi River in July 1839 in the presence of the Prophet Joseph and many of the Twelve (see chapter 36).

[8] By this time, Parley and Thankful had been married forty-five months but did not have any children. Because of Parley’s missions directed by the Spirit or given by the leadership of the Church, the couple had been separated for nearly a fourth of that time.

2006 Meridian Magazine.  All Rights Reserved.