Ramus (Webster), Illinois
Site of the town of Ramus
Sections 130 and 131
April and May 1843
"There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated -
"And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated."
Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21
Joseph Smith had a close friend in Ramus whose name was Benjamin Johnson. The Prophet often stayed at his home when visiting the area, about 20 miles southeast of Nauvoo.
"In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;
"And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood (meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage);
"And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.
"It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance."
Doctrine and Covenants 131:1-3, 6
During several visits in the Johnson home, the Prophet answered a variety of questions and gave instructions. William Clayton recorded Joseph's teachings, which later became Sections 130 and 131. Some of the doctrines were also taught in the home of Joseph's sister Sophronia, who lived in the area.
Key Events
Joel H. Johnson organized a small branch of the Church in Ramus in 1839. By the mid 1840s, there were about 500-600 members of the Church in this area.
Joseph Smith visited Ramus with Orson Hyde and William Clayton in April 1843. Hyde preached to Church members here, and Joseph subsequently offered some corrections to the doctrine Hyde had taught. The corrections are included in Section 130.
In May 1843, Joseph Smith wrote in his journal: "went to Benjamin F. Johnson's with William Clayton to sleep. Before retiring, I gave Brother and Sister Johnson some instructions on the priesthood." These instructions are part of Section 131.
The members of the Ramus Branch constructed a meetinghouse in the early 1840s. The building stood on the vacant lot seen in the foreground. Joseph taught some of the doctrines in Sections 130 and 131 to the Saints at several meetings, which may have been held at this place.
Words of Joseph Smith
"God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest. This, then, we conclude, was the purpose of God in giving His laws to us: If not, why, or for what were they given? If the whole family of man were as well off without them as they might be with them, for what purpose or intent were they ever given? Was it that God wanted to merely show that He could talk? It would be nonsense to suppose that He would condescend to talk in vain: for it would be in vain, and to no purpose whatever (if the law of God were of no benefit to man): because, all the commandments contained in the law of the Lord, have the sure promise annexed of a reward to all who obey, predicated upon the fact that they are really the promises of a Being who cannot lie, One who is abundantly able to fulfill every tittle of His word: and if man were as well prepared, or could be as well prepared, to meet God without their ever having been given in the first instance, why were they ever given? for certainly, in that case they can now do him no good." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 54)
Copyright 2005 Steve Mortensen. All rights reserved.