“I, Chemish, Write What Few Things I Write”

Bryan Richards

Chemish has the distinction of writing only one verse. He contributes less to the Book of Mormon than any other author. Whether or not Chemish kept another record of his life is not known. Nevertheless, this is the best time to discuss the importance of record keeping. The Lord has commanded us to keep a journal. Hopefully, we will be able to generate a history larger and more spiritually oriented than Chemish did. The importance of record keeping can be seen in the Nephite record. The commandment to keep a record started in the days of Adam, a book of remembrance was kept, in the which was recorded, in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God to write by the spirit of inspiration (Moses 5:5). The Lord also commanded the prophet Joseph Smith to have the saints keep a record of the their proceedings, It is the duty of the Lord's clerk, whom he has appointed, to keep a history, and a general church record of all things that transpire in Zion, and of all those who consecrate properties, and receive inheritances legally from the bishop; And also their manner of life, their faith, and works; and also of the apostates who apostatize after receiving their inheritances (DC 85:1-2).

The prophet himself contributed greatly to this history by writing his own personal history. He prefaces his 1838 history with the explanation that it is his intent to disabuse the public mind regarding the truth of his story, Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world—I have been induced to write this history, to disabuse the public mind, and put all inquirers after truth in possession of the facts, as they have transpired, in relation both to myself and the Church, so far as I have such facts in my possession (JS-H 1:1).

As far as our personal journal writing goes, we should include whatever we want. However, we would be wise to follow the example of Nephi who wanted to write of spiritual things, I desire the room that I may write of the things of God. For the fullness of mine intent is that I may persuade men to come unto the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and be saved (1 Nephi 6:3-4). If we were to write only of our spiritual experiences and personal revelations, would our record be large like the record of Nephi, or would it be one verse long, like the record of Chemish?

Elder Andrew Jenson

"By examining ourselves we find that nearly all of us spend more or less time every day in a way that is not calculated to do any particular good; this applies even to us who always think ourselves very busy. I venture to say that there is hardly a man or woman so busy with the affairs of life that he or she could not find time to keep a daily journal. But still, only a very few venture the experiment. Those few, however, almost invariably say, after a few years' practice, that the keeping of a diary is one of the best things they ever did.
"The keeping of a journal has a tendency to keep both mind and body in the straight and narrow path. If we keep a journal we naturally desire to write something that will read well. We want to make a good record of ourselves. But in order to do so we must live a good and useful life, and thus by our actions produce materials for a clean and interesting record." (Collected Discourses 1886-1898, ed. by Brian Stuy, vol. 5, Andrew Jenson, January 20th, 1895)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"The importance of keeping individual records should be impressed upon each member of the Church. Let each member of the Church ask himself, or herself, the following questions. Do I know the date of my birth? Do I know the date of my baptism? Confirmation? By whom were these ordinances performed? Do the brethren know when they were ordained to offices in the Aaronic Priesthood, and by whom? Do they know who conferred upon them the Melchizedek Priesthood, and when? All of these things are important, and no member should rely solely on the record of the Church for this information. Records may be burned, or get lost. This has frequently happened. Members of the Church are writing constantly to bishops, presidents of stakes and to the Historian's Office, seeking this kind of information which cannot be obtained in many instances. All important dates and events should be recorded in your family history. If any member of the Church desires to keep a full and complete journal of his life, it is well and good; but each member should have a record of the vital events in his life in some permanent manner." (Church History & Modern Revelation, p. 100)