On July 23, 1837, the Prophet Joseph Smith received the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 112 in behalf of Thomas B. Marsh, who was then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In this revelation Thomas Marsh was counseled regarding his own responsibilities and those of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Think about times when you have felt angry, frustrated, offended, or jealous as a result of your interactions with others. An early Apostle, Thomas B. Marsh, faced a situation that may have led him to experience similar feelings.
Soon after he was called to be an Apostle in 1835, Thomas B. Marsh was appointed President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In the spring of 1837, President Marsh learned that one of the Apostles, Parley P. Pratt, was planning a mission to England without President Marsh’s supervision. President Marsh, who was in Missouri, wrote to Elder Pratt and the other members of the Twelve and invited them to meet him in Kirtland, Ohio, on July 24, 1837, so they could be unified in their plans for missions. However, a month before that meeting took place, two other members of the quorum, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, departed for England after receiving mission calls from the Prophet Joseph Smith. President Marsh was apparently upset that members of the Twelve were proceeding to preach the gospel in England without the quorum being unified and without his involvement.
In this situation, what could President Marsh do to avoid feeling angry, frustrated, offended, or jealous? What are some dangers of allowing such feelings to govern our thoughts and actions?
Brigham Young, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time, persuaded President Marsh to meet with the Prophet Joseph Smith. In response to President Marsh’s concerns, the Lord gave the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 112 to the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 112:1–3, looking for the warnings that the Lord gave to Thomas B. Marsh. As you read, it might be helpful to know that the word abased in verse 3 indicates that President Marsh had humbled himself. What warnings did the Lord give to him? What good things did the Lord say Thomas had done?
In Doctrine and Covenants 112:4–10, the Lord gave further counsel to Thomas B. Marsh and assured him that he could accomplish great things with the Lord’s help.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 112:4–10. In your scripture study journal, list the promises the Lord made to Thomas B. Marsh. (In verse 5, the word contend does not mean to be angry or contentious; it means to labor diligently to preach the gospel.)
Complete the following “if–then” statement based on what you learn from Doctrine and Covenants 112:10: If we , then the Lord will . (You may want to mark this principle in your scriptures.)
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think humility helps us receive the Lord’s direction?
When have you felt guided by the Lord after humbling yourself?
When the Lord gave this revelation in July 1837, the Church was experiencing disunity, contention, and apostasy. Pride and greed led some members of the Church to openly criticize the Prophet Joseph Smith and question his authority. These challenges were partly a result of financial difficulties among the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio. Because of widespread economic problems, later referred to as the Panic of 1837, many banks failed throughout the United States. The Kirtland Safety Society, a financial institution established by Church leaders, also failed in the fall of 1837. Two hundred investors lost almost everything they had invested, with Joseph Smith suffering the greatest losses. Even though the Kirtland Safety Society was not funded by the Church, some of the Saints considered it a Church bank or the Prophet’s bank, and they blamed Joseph Smith for their financial problems. Some even began calling him a fallen prophet. But many others continued in the faith and stayed true to the Prophet, even though they lost money because of the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society. (See Church History in the Fulness of Times Student Manual, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 171–73.)
Some Church members, including some members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, even sought to remove Joseph Smith as President of the Church.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 112:11–13, looking for what the Lord instructed Thomas B. Marsh to do to help other members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who were struggling.
President Marsh was in an important position and had many responsibilities given him from the Lord.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What can help you to be humble when you receive recognition or important responsibilities?
The Lord helped Thomas B. Marsh recognize the importance of his responsibilities as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles while continuing to remind him to be humble. Complete the following chart as you study Doctrine and Covenants 112:14–22, 28–33.
Phrases emphasizing the importance of President Marsh’s responsibilities:
Phrases reminding Thomas Marsh of the need to be humble:
Complete the following activities in your scripture study journal:
According to verses 16–17, what priesthood keys are held by the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles? Mark in your scriptures the doctrine you learn, and write it down in your scripture study journal.
Write a principle you learn in verses 30–32 about the priesthood keys President Marsh held.
Consider marking the following doctrine found in Doctrine and Covenants 112:30–32: The keys of the priesthood have been restored for the last time in the dispensation of the fulness of times.
A dispensation is a period of time when the Lord reveals His doctrines, ordinances, and priesthood. It is a period in which the Lord has at least one authorized servant on the earth who bears the holy priesthood and who has a divine commission to dispense the gospel and to administer the ordinances thereof. (See Bible Dictionary, “Dispensations.”)
Ponder the following question: In Doctrine and Covenants 112:15, 30, what does the Lord say about the relationship between Thomas Marsh’s responsibilities as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the responsibilities of the Prophet Joseph Smith?
Thomas B. Marsh struggled to follow the counsel he received in this revelation.
Not long after the revelation in Doctrine and Covenants 112 was given, Thomas B. Marsh told Vilate Kimball (Heber C. Kimball’s wife) that Heber would not be effective on his mission. President Marsh apparently felt that because proclaiming the gospel abroad was his responsibility, the door to missionary work in England could not be opened until he either sent someone or went himself.
Think about how this incident illustrates that President Marsh may have struggled to be humble.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency explained how we can be more humble and avoid pride:
“Humility does not mean convincing ourselves that we are worthless, meaningless, or of little value. Nor does it mean denying or withholding the talents God has given us. We don’t discover humility by thinking less of ourselves; we discover humility by thinking less about ourselves. It comes as we go about our work with an attitude of serving God and our fellowman.
“Humility directs our attention and love toward others and to Heavenly Father’s purposes. Pride does the opposite. Pride draws its energy and strength from the deep wells of selfishness. The moment we stop obsessing with ourselves and lose ourselves in service, our pride diminishes and begins to die” (“Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 58).
Explain to a family member or friend what you have been learning about humility. Write the person’s name in your scripture study journal.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 112:34, looking for what Thomas Marsh needed to do to receive these blessings.
Finish the following principle: We must to receive the Lord’s promised blessings.
The following account summarizes Thomas B. Marsh’s eventual falling away from and return to the Church:
For a time, President Marsh followed the counsel he had received. He worked to strengthen the Church and sustain Joseph Smith. However, he soon returned to his contentious feelings about the way the Church was led. These feelings combined with concerns about conflicts between disobedient and aggressive Church members and their neighbors in Missouri. In September 1838, while he was beset by this spirit of apostasy, his wife, Elizabeth, became involved in a dispute. She and another woman, both members of the Church, had agreed to regularly exchange milk to have enough to make cheese, but Sister Marsh was accused of violating her agreement by keeping the part of the milk that was richest in cream. The matter was brought before Church leaders more than once. It was even brought before the First Presidency. Each time, it was decided that Sister Marsh was at fault. President Marsh was angry and unsatisfied with these decisions (see George A. Smith, “Discourse,” Deseret News, Apr. 16, 1856, 44). While this situation did not lead him to leave the Church, it compounded with his other frustrations. He became increasingly critical of other Church leaders, and he eventually turned against the Saints. He later recalled, “I became jealous of the Prophet … and overlooked everything that was right, and spent all my time in looking for the evil” (“Remarks,” Deseret News, Sept. 16, 1857, 220).
Eighteen years after he left the Church, Thomas Marsh humbly wrote a letter to Heber C. Kimball, asking for forgiveness and permission to rejoin the Church. He explained what he learned through his mistakes: “The Lord could get along very well without me and He has lost nothing by my falling out of the ranks; But O what have I lost?!” (Thomas B. Marsh letter to Heber C. Kimball, May 5, 1857, Brigham Young Collection, Church History Library, as quoted in Kay Darowski, “The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh,” Revelations in Context [Mar. 19, 2013]; history.lds.org).
In your scripture study journal, summarize what you have learned from your study today. Select one way that you can be more humble and faithful, and write a goal to act upon it.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 112 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: