New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage

Doctrinal teachings by Joseph Smith the Prophet given at Ramus, Illinois, May 16 and 17, 1843. Joseph here teaches of the promises from having one’s calling and election made sure, and of the promises and necessity of Celestial Marriage, or the “New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage.”  He addresses the unpardonable sin, and the fact that there are different degrees of glory within the celestial kingdom.  Joseph teaches concerning the nature of matter, that knowledge is essential to salvation and power, and other items.  See Documentary History of the Church  5:391-393.  See also the William Clayton diary for May 17, 1843, which may be found in the Words of Joseph Smith, pages 202-203.

1    Your life is hid with Christ in God, and so are many others.

2    Nothing but the unpardonable sin can prevent you from inheriting eternal life; for you are sealed up by the power of the priesthood unto eternal life, having taken the step necessary for that purpose.

3    Except a man and his wife enter into an everlasting covenant and be married for eternity, while in this probation, by the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood, they will cease to increase when they die; that is, they will not have any children after the resurrection. 

4    But those who are married by the power and authority of the priesthood in this life, and continue without committing the sin against the Holy Ghost, will continue to increase and have children in the celestial glory. 

5    The unpardonable sin is to shed innocent blood, or be accessory thereto.  All other sins will be visited with judgment in the flesh, and the spirit being delivered to the buffetings of satan until the day of the Lord Jesus. 

6    The way I know in whom to confide—God tells me in whom I may place confidence.

7    In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees;

8    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];

9    And if he does not, he cannot obtain it.

10  He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase.

11  Knowledge is power, and the man who has the most knowledge has the greatest power.

12  Salvation means a man’s being placed beyond the powers of all his enemies.

13  The more sure word of prophecy is a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood.

14  It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.

15  Paul saw the third heavens and I more.

16  Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles.

17  The seventh verse of the second chapter of Genesis reads, “…God…breathed into his [Adam’s] nostrils the breath of life,” but it ought to read, “God breathed into Adam his spirit [i.e. Adam’s spirit] or breath of life.”

18  But when the word rauch applies to Eve, it should be translated “lives.”

19  There is no such thing as immaterial matter.  All spirit is matter, but is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. 

20  We cannot see it, but when our bodies are purified, we shall see that it is all matter.


Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet on July 27, 1842 in Nauvoo Illinois, giving instructions to Newel K. Whitney to solemnize a plural marriage between Newel K. Whitney’s daughter, Sarah Ann Whitney, and Joseph Smith.  See Section 134 for a description of the eternal marriage and plural marriage ceremony as it became subsequently standardized.  The rights to the priesthood are inherited and passed on through lineage and posterity.  Mention is made of the yet future reign of the Davidic King.  A copy of this revelation is recorded in the early Latter-day Saint Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association monthly magazine, The Contributor, 6:131.

1    Verily, thus saith the Lord unto my servant Newel K. Whitney:

2    The thing that my servant Joseph Smith has made known unto you and your family and which you have agreed upon is right in mine eyes;

3    And shall be crowned upon your heads with honor, immortality, and eternal life to all your house, both old and young, because of the lineage of my priesthood, saith the Lord;

4    It shall be upon you and upon your children after you from generation to generation, by virtue of the holy promise which 

I now make unto you, saith the Lord.

5    These are the words which you shall pronounce upon my servant Joseph and your daughter Sarah Ann Whitney;

6    They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say:

7    You both mutually agree, calling them by name, to be each other’s companion so long as you both shall live, preserving yourselves for each other and from all others, and also throughout all eternity, reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph by revelation and commandment and by legal authority in times past.

8    If you both agree to covenant and do this, then I give you Sarah Ann Whitney, my daughter, to Joseph Smith, to be his wife, to observe all the rights between you both that belong to that condition.

9    I do it in my own name, and in the name of my wife, your mother, and in the name of my holy progenitors, by right of birth which is of priesthood, vested in me by revelation, commandment, and promise of the living God, obtained by the holy Melchizedek, Jethro, and other of the holy fathers commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through to your posterity forever.

10  All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that through this order He may be glorified, and through the power of anointing David may reign King over Israel, which shall hereafter be revealed.

11  Let immortality and eternal life henceforth be sealed upon your heads forever and ever.


Description of the eternal marriage and plural marriage ceremony, as published in The Seer, 4:2:33 (February 1853).  This is the marriage ceremony which became standardized at the direction of the early leadership of the LDS Church.  Plural marriage was first practiced privately by Joseph Smith and then introduced to and practiced by some of those closest to him.  It was not practiced openly in the LDS Church until 1852, at which time President Brigham Young appointed Orson Pratt to be a spokesman to expound this doctrine to the general membership of the Church, and consequently to announce it to the world.  Orson Pratt presented the principle of Celestial Plural Marriage as an essential practice and doctrine of the Restoration, and a necessary principle for the establishment of Zion.  Orson Pratt’s public introduction of plural marriage was in a discourse delivered in the early tabernacle on August 29, 1852 (Journal of Discourses 1:58).  While many in the Church were aware of plural marriage when Orson Pratt delivered this discourse, this was the first public discussion of the doctrine.  As a part of fulfilling his assignment, Orson Pratt published a periodical called The Seer, which was a means for him to instruct Church members on various gospel subjects, but especially on plural and eternal marriage.  The few differences between the details of the instructions below and subsequent eternal or plural marriage ceremonies came about as a result of the ceremony being performed over an altar in the Salt Lake Endowment House or in temples.  When a marriage was performed which was not a plural marriage, the portions of the ceremony described here pertaining to a plural ceremony were simply omitted.

1    When the day set apart for the solemnization of the marriage ceremony has arrived, the bridegroom, his wife, and also the bride, together with their relatives, and such other guests as may be invited, assemble at the place which they have appointed.

2    The scribe then proceeds to take the names, ages, native towns, counties, States, and countries of the parties to be married, which he carefully enters on record.

3    The president, who is the prophet, seer, and revelator over the whole Church throughout the world, and who alone holds the keys of authority in this solemn ordinance, (as recorded in the revelation on marriage, D&C 132:7, 18) calls upon  the  bride-

groom, his wife, and the bride to arise, which they do, fronting the president.

4    The wife stands on the left hand of her husband, while the bride stands on her left. The president, then, puts this question to the wife:

5    “Are you willing to give this woman to your husband to be his lawful and wedded wife for time and for all eternity?  If you are, you will manifest it by placing her right hand within the right hand of your husband.”

6    The right hands of the bridegroom and bride, being thus joined, the wife takes her husband by the left arm, as if in the attitude of walking.  The president then proceeds to ask the following question of the man:

7    “Do you brother (calling him by name), take sister (calling the bride by her name), by the right hand to receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife, and you to be her lawful and wedded husband for time and for all eternity, with a covenant and promise, on your part, that you will fulfill all the laws, rites, and ordinances, pertaining to this holy matrimony, in the New and Everlasting Covenant, doing this in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?”

8    The bridegroom answers, “Yes.”

9    The president, then, puts the question to the bride:

10  “Do you, sister (calling her by name), take brother (calling him by name), by the right hand, and give yourself to him, to be his lawful and wedded wife for time and for all eternity with a covenant and promise, on your part, that you will fulfill all the laws, rites, and ordinances, pertaining to this holy matrimony, in the New and Everlasting Covenant, doing this in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?”

11  The bride answers, “Yes.”

12  The president then says,

13  “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the authority of the Holy Priesthood, I pronounce you legally and lawfully husband and wife for time and for all eternity; and I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection, with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, clothed with glory, immortality, and eternal lives; and I seal upon you the blessings of thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, and exaltations, together with the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and say unto you:  Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in your posterity in the day of the Lord Jesus.  All these blessings, together with all other blessings pertaining to the New and Everlasting Covenant, I seal upon your heads, through your faithfulness unto the end, by the authority of the Holy Priesthood, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.”

14  The scribe, then, enters on the general record, the date and place of the marriage, together with the names of two or three witnesses who were present.