Description of the land of Zion by Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon wrote the following description of Missouri as commanded in Doctrine and Covenants 58:50

“The country is unlike the timbered states of the East. As far as the eye can reach the beautiful rolling prairies lie spread out like a sea of meadows; and are decorated with a growth of flowers so gorgeous and grand as to exceed description; and nothing is more fruitful, or a richer stockholder in the blooming prairie than the honey bee. Only on the water courses is timber to be found. There in strips from one to three miles in width, and following faithfully the meanderings of the streams, it grows in luxuriant forests. The forests are a mixture of oak, hickory, black walnut, elm, ash, cherry, honey locust, mulberry, coffee bean, hackberry, boxelder, and bass wood; with the addition of cottonwood, butterwood, pecan, and soft and hard maple upon the bottoms. The shrubbery is beautiful, and consists in part of plums, grapes, crab apple, and persimmons.

The soil is rich and fertile; from three to ten feet deep, and generally composed of a rich black mould, intermingled with clay and sand. It yields in abundance, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, cotton and many other common agricultural products. Horses, cattle and hogs, though of an inferior breed, are tolerably plentiful and seem nearly to raise themselves by grazing in the vast prairie range in summer, and feeding upon the bottoms in winter. The wild game is less plentiful of course where man has commenced the cultivation of the soil, than in the wild prairies. Buffalo, elk, deer, bear, wolves, beaver and many smaller animals here roam at pleasure. Turkeys, geese, swans, ducks, yea a variety of the feathered tribe, are among the rich abundance that grace the delightful regions of this goodly land—the heritage of the children of God.

The season is mild and delightful nearly three quarters of the year, and as the land of Zion, situated at about equal distances from the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as from the Alleghany and Rocky mountains, in the thirty-ninth degree of north latitude, and between the sixteenth and seventeenth degrees of west longitude, it bids fair—when the curse is taken from the land—to become one of the most blessed places on the globe. The winters are milder than the Atlantic states of the same parallel of latitude, and the weather is more agreeable; so that were the virtues of the inhabitants only equal to the blessings of the Lord which He permits to crown the industry of those inhabitants, there would be a measure of the good things of life for the benefit of the Saints, full, pressed down, and running over, even an hundredfold.

The disadvantages here, as in all new countries, are self-evident-lack of mills and schools; together with the natural privations and inconveniences which the hand of industry, the refinement of society, and the polish of science, overcome.

But all these impediments vanish when it is recollected what the Prophets have said concerning Zion in the last days; how the glory of Lebanon is to come upon her; the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of His sanctuary, that He may make the place of His feet glorious. Where for brass, He will bring gold; and for
iron, He will bring silver; and for wood, brass; and for stones, iron; and where the feast of fat things will be given to the just; yea, when the splendor of the Lord is brought to our consideration for the good of His people, the calculations of men and the vain glory of the world vanish, and we exclaim, “Out of Zion the perfection of beauty, God hath shined”.” (History of the Church, 1:197–98.)

Advertisements

All things created Spiritually first

A few weeks ago during my personal study, I came across a couple of verses in The Pearl of Great Price.

In Moses 3:5 we find the following “For I, the Lord Go, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth.” 

Immediately, I thought of the Plat of Zion and how the gathering places of the Saints were created “spiritually first” and then implemented across different settlements.

This concept is further discussed in verse 7 “nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word” and in verse 9 “For it was spiritual in the day that I created it”.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints maintain that Joseph Smith, Jr.  was a Prophet, and as such, received revelations for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all temporal and spiritual matters.  Joseph, provided a plat shortly after the place of the New Jerusalem was revealed to him.  The Plat of Zion is closely linked to the concept of the “New Jerusalem” which would eventually become the dwelling place of the Savior during 1,000 years of peace spoken of in the Bible.  There are literally hundreds of individual verses discussing “Zion” and “The New Jerusalem”, here I will focus on a few.

The first mention of the “New Jerusalem” in modern scripture is found in Doctrine and Covenants 42:9 “Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God”.  This revelation was dated February 9, 1831.  This verse describes the New Jerusalem as a “gathering place” to become “one” and learnt to be a “people”.

Doctrine and Covenants 45:66 was received in March 7, 1831 “And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God”.  The concepts of peace, refuge and safety are prevalent here.

The actual place for the New Jerusalem was revealed to Joseph while he was preaching the gospel to the Native Americans near Independence, Missouri.  The following revelation took place in July 20, 1831.  See Doctrine and Covenants 57:1-3

“1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.

3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”

 

 

 

Image result for missouri natural landscape

I am sure that shortly after the location of the New Jerusalem was identified, Joseph spent much time thinking about how this “city” would be organized in the physical environment.  In 1833, he sent the official Plat of Zion to the members of the Church in Missouri with instructions in how this should be done.  Shortly after the first draft was sent to them, an updated one was created with minor revisions.

 

There is an important pattern here, all things are created first Spiritually, then Physically.  This leads me to believe that the Plat of Zion was a heavenly design; a place that would foster all the concepts of the New Jerusalem in creating a people that would be of: one heart and one mind, dwell in righteousness and take care of the poor.  Out of all the available city designs and patterns available at the time, Joseph chose this one for the implementation by the Saints.

 

In future posts I will attempt to highlight the Spiritual implications of the Plat of Zion in achieving these spiritual goals.

-Ed