Taken from his sermons and writings as they are found in the Documentary History and other publications of the Church and written or published in the days of the Prophet’s ministry.
Selected and arranged by the Historian, Joseph Fielding Smith, and his Assistants in the Historian’s Office of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
With Scriptural Annotations By Richard C. Galbraith
Richard C. Galbraith is a Professor of Marriage, Family, and Human Development at Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. degree in experimental psychology at Northwestern University. His research and scholarly publications include the areas of human memory and intelligence, statistics and computer science.
JH—Journal History of the Church.
DHC—Documentary History of the Church.
E&MS—Evening and Morning Star.
TS—Times and Seasons.
FWR—Far West Record.
M&A—Messenger and Advocate.
I have had a fondness for the sermons and writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith for many years. My interest was initially sparked in the classes of Hyrum L. Andrus when I was an undergraduate student at Brigham Young University. I always appreciated the Prophet’s usage of the scriptures, and would occasionally note a few scriptural references in the margins of my copy of the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
In November, 1989, I decided it was time to formally catalog these marginal notes and hunt up what scriptural references remained. I contacted a friend in the Ancient Scripture Department, Monte S. Nyman, and asked if he had any scriptural references in his copy of the Teachings which might save me a little time. Mont gave me a list containing 700 entries. I was sure the task was nearly done.
As with so many things, the little project began to take on a life of its own. My first careful reading of the Teachings resulted in 2,000 scriptural references. In addition, I discovered that many of the phrases and passages of the Teachings, although not quoting verbatim, were extremely useful in the interpretation of many other scriptures, and vice versa. Several readings have transpired since, and the final count now stands at over 11,000 references, both direct and contextual. Doubtless there are others.
I also found that the line between scripture cited and scriptural concept noted became increasingly blurred as my appreciation of the Prophet’s scriptural prowess grew. When asked if he stole his wife, the Prophet once replied “Ask her, she was of age, she can answer for herself” (Teachings, p. 120). In a strict sense, this is not a scriptural citation. But after experiencing the Prophet’s scriptural genius time and again, I am persuaded that a clever use was made of John 9:21. In this passage, the parents of the man born blind, seeking to avoid excommunication (John 9:22), replied to the Pharisees, “he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself."
A brief sampling of the Prophet’s scriptural usage, including a basis for this ability from his life experiences, is included in the Appendix. It is hoped that the present work highlights one of the great contributions of the Prophet Joseph Smith, that of “expounding all scriptures unto the church" (D&C 24:5).
The Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith has benefitted from the contributions of friends and family. My wife Sandy, and children James, Jennifer, Daniel, Stefanie, and Michelle have patiently allowed me to see an idea through to fruition. The Department of Family Sciences at Brigham Young University (Terrance D. Olson, Chairman) has tolerated my wide range of research interests and generously provided computer equipment. Specialty Reference Retrieval (Paul M. Urie, Mark L. Donaldson, Richard C. Galbraith) provided Retriever, a computer text retrieval program, which greatly aided in the identification of scriptural references. Don E. Norton of the English Department, Brigham Young University, has been most helpful in editing my nonscriptural material. Finally, two women have greatly influenced my love of the scriptures and the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. My angel grandmother, Harriet Amanda Davis, raised me as a child to appreciate the abundant life contained in the scriptures (John 10:10). Her life was “seasoned with grace” (Teachings, p. 156, Col. 4:6). Truly, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness” (Prov. 31:26; Eph. 4:32). Louise O. Belnap, a dear friend, was a saint “instructed unto the kingdom of heaven who freely brought forth of her treasure goodly pearls, new and old” (Matt. 13:45, 52; Matt. 10:8).
A quarter of a century ago, Elder Edwin F. Parry compiled and published a classified arrangement of excerpts from doctrinal sermons and writings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. These sayings were taken from the Documentary History of the Church. That little work filled an important mission, but left in the hearts and minds of all who were interested in the sayings of the great latter-day Prophet, a longing for more of his sayings, which longing was not satisfied. Many faithful members of the Church have expressed the desire that a more extensive work of this kind be published. The members of the Church quite generally desire to know what the Prophet Joseph Smith may have said on important subjects, for they look upon his utterances as coming through divine inspiration.
Many of these discourses and writings appear in the Documentary History of the Church, but others have not been included in these volumes, but are scattered through the early publications of the Church. It has been difficult even for the student to obtain these because the old publications are not accessible for general use.
In accordance with the many calls that have been made that there be a more extensive compilation of these discourses and sayings, the matter was taken up in the Historian’s Office and such a compilation has been prepared, submitted to the First Presidency and passed by them for publication.
It should be remembered that this compilation contains some discourses and statements from the minutes of council and priesthood meetings, which are not verbatim reports of the Prophet’s remarks, but which have been approved in those minutes. There has been no attempt to compile these sayings by subject, because frequently in the same article or discourse, several subjects are discussed. It has been thought best to give each article, or portion of article, chronologically, with an exhaustive index through which the various subjects may be found. Historical matters and incidental or unimportant matters have been eliminated. By the use of asterisks these portions left out are indicated in the body of the work.
Articles which are accessible, such as Joseph Smith Tells His Own Story, which has been published in tract form and also in the Pearl of Great Price, are not added to this work. References have been made to the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants where necessary, but these revelations are not included in this work.
It is felt that this volume will meet a need and promote faith among the members of the Church. With this intent it is sent out on its mission as another testimony of the divine calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH,
First published in 1938.
Meantime our translation drawing to a close, we went to Palmyra, Wayne County, New York, secured the copyright, and agreed with Mr. Egbert B. Grandin to print five thousand copies for the sum of three thousand dollars.
I wish to mention here, that the title-page of the Book of Mormon1 is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew2 writing in general; and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or of any other man who has lived or does live in this generation. Therefore, in order to correct an error which generally exists concerning it, I give below that part of the title-page of the English version of the Book of Mormon, which is a genuine and literal translation of the title-page of the original Book of Mormon, as recorded on the plates.—DHC 1:71. (1830.)
My time was occupied closely in reviewing the commandments and sitting in conference, for nearly two weeks, for from the first to the twelfth of November  we held four special conferences. In the last which was held at Brother Johnson’s, in Hiram, after deliberate consideration, in consequence of the Book of revelations,3 now to be printed,a being
aAt a conference of the Church held in November, 1831, the Prophet received the revelation known as Section One, or the Preface to the Book of Commandments. At this conference the Elders considered the question of publishing the revelations which had been given up to that time as the Book of Commandments. This action the Lord approved by revelation. It was decided that 10,000 copies should be published, but later this was
the foundation of the Church1 in these last days, and a benefit to the world, showing that the keys of the mysteries2 of the kingdom of our Savior3 are again entrusted to man;4 and the riches of eternity5 within the compass6 of those who are willing to live by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God7—therefore the conference voted that they prize8 the revelations to be worth to the Church the riches of the whole earth,9 speaking temporally. The great benefits to the world which result from the Book of Mormon and the revelations, which the Lord has seen fit10 in His infinite wisdom11 to grant unto us for our salvation,12 and for the salvation of all that will believe,13 were duly appreciated; and in answer to an inquiry, I received the following.14 (Nov., 1831) DHC 1:235-236.
Brother Joseph Smith, Jr. said: We have assembled together to do the business of the Lord15 and it is through the great
changed to 3,000 copies. A number of the brethren, at this conference, arose and stated that they were willing to testify to the world that they knew that the revelations received by the Prophet were of the Lord. In due time the revelations were compiled by the Prophet, and at a conference held November 12, 1831, the revelations were received with thanksgiving. Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer and William W. Phelps, were appointed to review the revelations for printing, and Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer were appointed to carry them to Missouri where the printing was to be done. These brethren were “dedicated and consecrated with the sacred writings and all they have entrusted to their care to the Lord.” The publication was commenced by William W. Phelps and Co. in Jackson County, Missouri, but before the work was completed the press and type were destroyed by a mob, July 20, 1833, and only a few of the printed forms were preserved; these were bound and used by those fortunate enough to secure them in the uncompleted condition as the Book of Commandments. Later, in the year 1835, the revelations, now greatly increased in number, were again compiled and ordered printed as The Doctrine and Covenants. This first edition, prepared under the care of the Prophet Joseph Smith, contained 254 pages and was printed by Frederick G. Williams and Co. in Kirtland, Ohio. The revelations ranged over a period from 1828 to 1834. Seven Lectures on Faith, which had been given before the School of the Elders in Kirtland were also added to the volume, not as revelations, but as stated by the brethren at that time “as profitable for doctrine.” In this book there also appeared two articles written by Oliver Cowdery, one on Marriage, and the other on Governments and Laws in General. These were ordered printed in the volume with the revelations, but it should be remembered this was done in the absence and without the approval of the Prophet Joseph Smith, who with President Frederick G. Williams was in Michigan at the time this action was taken. Hence these articles are not, as some have supposed, revelations and were not so considered by the Church. It was on the occasion of the acceptance of the revelations for publication, November 12, 1831, when the Prophet wrote in his journal the comment on the value of the revelations.
mercy of our God1 that we are spared2 to assemble together, many of us have gone at the command of the Lord in defiance of everything evil, and obtained blessings unspeakable,3 in consequence of which our names are sealed4 in the Lamb’s book of life,5 for the Lord has spoken it6. It is the privilege of every Elder7 to speak of the things of God;8 and could we all come together9 with one heart and one mind10 in perfect faith11 the veil might as well be rent12 today as next week, or any other time, and if we will but cleanse ourselves13 and covenant before God,14 to serve Him,15 it is our privilege to have an assurance16 that God will protect us17 at all times.a—FWR, pp. 13-14. (Oct. 25, 1831.)
Brother Joseph Smith, Jr. said: That he intended to do his duty18 before the Lord and hoped that the brethren would be patient as they had a considerable distance (to go). Also said that the promise of God19 was that the greatest blessings which God had to bestow should be given to those who contributed to the support of his family20 while he was translating the fulness of the Scriptures.21 Until we have perfect love22 we are liable to fall and when we have a testimony that our names are sealed in the Lamb’s book of life23 we have perfect love and then it is impossible for false Christs24 to deceive us; also said, that the Lord held the Church bound to provide for families of the absent Elders25 while proclaiming the Gospel; further, that God had often sealed up the heavens26 because of covetousness27 in the Church. The Lord would cut short his work in righteousness28 and except the Church receive the fulness of the Scriptures29 that they would yet fail.b—FWR, p. 16. (Oct. 25, 1831.)
Upon my return from Amherst Conference, I resumed the translation of the Scriptures.c From sundry revelations which
aThis is not a verbatim statement, but report in the minutes of the meeting of the conference held on that day.
bThis is also a statement from the minutes of the Prophet’s remarks as recorded by the scribe, not a verbatim report but a synopsis.
cShortly after the organization of the Church the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to make a translation of the Bible by revelation. It had been made known in the translation of the Book of Mormon that because of iniquity “many plain and precious things” were “taken away from the book, which
had been received, it was apparent that many important points touching the salvation of men,1 had been taken from the Bible,2 or lost before it was compiled. It appeared from what truths were left, that if God rewarded every one according to the deeds3
is the book of the Lamb of God.” (1 Nephi 13:28.) Moreover, because of the “many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceeding great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them.” (1 Nephi 13:29.)
As early as April, 1829, the Lord declared that many of these plain and precious sayings were to be restored, not only through the Book of Mormon, but through a revision of the Bible. When Oliver Cowdery came to the Prophet Joseph Smith and commenced to write at the Prophet’s dictation in the translation of the Book of Mormon, the Lord said unto him:“Verily verily, I say unto you, that there are records which contain much of my gospel, which have been kept back because of the wickedness of the people. And now I command you, that if you have good desires—a desire to lay up treasures for yourself in heaven—then shall you assist in bringing to light, with your gift, those parts of my scriptures which have been hidden because of iniquity.” (D. and C. 6:26-27.) A few days later, in the same month of April, 1829, the Lord again referred to the coming forth of these scriptures in the following words:“I would that ye should continue until you have finished this record [i.e. the Book of Mormon], which I have entrusted unto him [Joseph Smith]. And then, behold, other records have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate.” (D. and C. 9:1-2.) The earliest manuscripts of the Bible translation are in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery. These bear the beginning date of June, 1830, and continue until October 21, the same year. This was done in Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Fayette, New York. Brother Cowdery then departed for Ohio and Missouri in response to a call from the Lord for missionary service among the Lamanites. (D. and C. 32:1-2.) At this juncture, John Whitmer served as scribe to the Prophet as the translation continued. In December, 1830, having recently joined the Church, Sidney Rigdon came to Fayette to see the Prophet Joseph and was called by revelation to do this writing in the following words:“And a commandment I give unto thee—that thou shalt write for him. and the scriptures shall be given even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect.” (D. and C. 35:20.) In February, 1831, the Lord spoke again, saying:“Thou shalt ask, and my scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety; and it is expedient that thou shouldst hold thy peace concerning them, and not teach them until ye have received them in full. And I give unto you a commandment that then ye shall teach them unto all men; for they shall be taught unto all nations, kindreds, tongues and people.” (D. and C. 42:56- 58.)
From June, 1830, until March 7, 1831, the Brethren labored with the revision of the early chapters of Genesis. However, on the latter date they were instructed to begin a translation of the New Testament also (D. and C. 45:60- 61.) This they began the next day, March 8. The work continued through both the Old and New Testaments until July 2, 1833, when the Prophet finished the work as far as the Lord required of him at that time. In the remaining eleven years of his life the Prophet further revised some passages and attempted to prepare the manuscript for publication. However, because of persecution and a lack of financial means, this was not accomplished before his death. The original manuscripts came into the hands of his widow, Emma Smith, who refused to give them to the Church, although a request was made to her for them. The manuscripts subsequently came
done in the body1 the term “Heaven” as intended for the Saints’ eternal home,2 must include more kingdoms than one.3 Accordingly, on the 16th of February, 1832, while translating St. John’s Gospel,4 myself and Elder Rigdon saw the following vision.5—DHC 1:245. (Feb. 16, 1832.)
Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the Kingdom of the Lord,6 than the light which burst upon the world7 through the foregoing vision.8 Every law, every commandment, every promise, every truth, and every point touching the destiny of man, from Genesis to Revelation, where the purity of the Scriptures remains unsullied by the folly of men,9 go to show the perfection of the theory (of different degrees of glory in the future life)10 and witness the fact that the document is a transcript from the records of the eternal world.11 The sublimity of the ideas;12 the purity of the language;13 the scope for action; the continued duration for completion, in order that the heirs of salvation14 may confess the Lord and bow the knee;15 the rewards for faithfulness,16 and the punishments for sins,17 are so much beyond the narrow-mindedness of men, that every man is constrained to exclaim: “It came from God.” (Feb., 1832.) DHC 1:252-253.
The following excerpts are taken from the second number of the Evening and Morning Star, published in August, 1832. The article from which these thoughts are taken was prepared by the Prophet and published in this issue of the Star.
Search the Scriptures18—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ,19 to manifest the truth unto you,20 and if you do it with an eye single to His glory,21 nothing doubting,22 He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit.23 You will then know for yourselves24 and not for another.25 You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God;26 nor will there
into the possession of the Reorganized Church and were used for the publication of the “Inspired Version” of the Bible in 1867.
A partial copy of the manuscripts was made in the spring of 1845 by Dr. John M. Bernhisel and is now in the archives of the Church in Salt Lake City. Although it is an incomplete copy, it served to corroborate the accuracy of the printed editions insofar as its limited scope permits. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible is one of the greatest tangible evidences of his spiritual insight and divine calling.
be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them,1 they know how He will save them. Then again we say: Search the Scriptures,2 search the Prophets3 and learn what portion of them belongs to you4 and the people of the nineteenth century. You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation5 upon the obedience of the children of Israel6 when journeying in the wilderness,7 nor can you expect that the blessings which the Apostles pronounced8 upon the churches of Christ eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others’ blessings are not your blessings, others’ curses are not your curses;9 you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves,10 to be judged according to your works.11
Every man lives for himself.12 Adam was made to open the way of the world, and for dressing the garden.13 Noah was born to save seed of everything,14 when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood;15 and the Son of God came into the world to redeem it from the fall.16 But except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.17 This eternal truth settles the question of all men’s religion. A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom,18 but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God, without being born of the water and the Spirit.19 He may receive a glory like unto the moon,20 [i.e., of which the light of the moon is typical], or a star,21 [i.e., of which the light of the stars is typical], but he can never come unto Mount Zion,22 and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and Church of the Firstborn,23 which are written in heaven,24 and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,25 and to Jesus the Mediator26 of the new covenant, unless he becomes as a little child,27 and is taught by the Spirit of God.28 Wherefore, we again say, search the revelations29 of God; study the prophecies,30 and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets.31 They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness;32 they saw the flood before it came;33 they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder34 that
reached from earth to heaven; they saw the stone cut out of the mountain,1 which filled the whole earth;2 they saw the Son of God come3 from the regions of bliss4 and dwell with men on earth;5 they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob;6 they saw the glory of the Lord when he showed the transfiguration of the earth on the mount;7 they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted8 when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked;9 they saw truth spring out of the earth,10 and righteousness look down from heaven11 in the last days, before the Lord came the second time12 to gather His elect;13 they saw the end of wickedness14 on earth, and the Sabbath of creation15 crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years,16 when Satan was loosed for a little season;17 they saw the day of judgment18 when all men received according to their works,19 and they saw the heaven and the earth flee away20 to make room for the city of God, when the righteous receive an inheritance21 in eternity. And, fellow sojourners upon earth,22 it is your privilege to purify yourselves23 and come up to the same glory,24 and see for yourselves,25 and know for yourselves. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.26—E&MS August, 1832. DHC 1:282-284.
January 4, 1833, the Prophet wrote to Mr. N. E. Seaton, an editor of a newspaper, the following words of counsel and warning concerning the state of the world and the purpose of the Lord in the restoration spoken of by the ancient prophets.
Kirtland, January 4th, 1833.
Mr. Editor:—Sir, Considering the liberal principles upon which your interesting and valuable paper is published, myself being a subscriber, and feeling a deep interest in the cause of Zion,27 and in the happiness of my brethren of mankind,28 I cheerfully take up my pen to contribute my mite29 at this very interesting and important period.
For some length of time I have been carefully reviewing the state of things, as it now appears, throughout our Christian land; and have looked at it with feelings of the most painful anxiety.30 While upon one hand31 I behold the manifest withdrawal of God’s Holy Spirit,32 and the veil of stupidity which seems to be drawn over the hearts of the people;33 upon the
other hand, I behold the judgments of God1 that have swept, and are still sweeping2 hundreds and thousands of our race, and I fear unprepared,3 down to the shades of death.4 With this solemn and alarming fact before me, I am led to exclaim, “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night.”5
I think that it is high time for a Christian world to awake out of sleep,6 and cry mightily to that God,7 day and night,8 whose anger we have justly incurred. Are not these things a sufficient stimulant to arouse the faculties, and call forth the energies of every man, woman or child that possesses feelings of sympathy for their fellows, or that is in any degree endeared to the budding cause of our glorious Lord?9 I leave an intelligent community to answer this important question, with a confession, that this is what has caused me to overlook my own inability, and expose my weakness to a learned world; but, trusting in that God who has said that these things are hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes,10 I step forth into the field to tell you what the Lord is doing, and what you must do, to enjoy the smiles of your Savior11 in these last days.
The time has at last arrived when the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob12, has set his hand again the second time to recover the remnants of his people,13 which have been left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea, and with them to bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, and establish that covenant with them, which was promised when their sins should be taken away. See Isaiah 11; Romans 11:25, 26 and 27,14 and also Jeremiah 31:31, 32 and 33.15 This covenant has never been established with the house of Israel, nor with the house of Judah, for it requires two parties to make a covenant, and those two parties must be agreed, or no covenant can be made.
Christ, in the days of His flesh,16 proposed to make a covenant with them,17 but they rejected Him and His proposals,18 and
in consequence thereof, they were broken off,1 and no covenant was made with them at that time. But their unbelief2 has not rendered the promise of God of none effect:3 no, for there was another day limited in David,4 which was the day of His power;5 and then His people, Israel, should be a willing people;6—and He would write His law in their hearts,7 and print it in their thoughts; their sins and their iniquities He would remember no more.8
Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and His proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them, “Lo we turn unto the Gentiles;”9 and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in10 from whence the chosen family were broken off; but the Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God,11 but have departed from the faith12 that was once delivered to the Saints,13 and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established (see Isaiah 24:5);14 and have become high-minded, and have not feared;15 therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family.16 Have not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief17 of the Gentiles, provoked the Holy One of Israel18 to withdraw His Holy Spirit19 from them, and send forth His judgments to scourge them for their wickedness?20 This is certainly the case.
Christ said to His disciples (Mark 16:17 and 18), that these signs should follow them that believe:—“In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover;”21 and also, in connection with this, read 1st Corinthians, 12th chapter.22 By the foregoing testimonies we may look at the Christian world and see the apostasy there has been from the apostolic platform; and who can look at this and not exclaim, in the language of Isaiah, “The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant?”23
The plain fact is this, the power of God begins to fall24
upon the nations, and the light of the latter-day glory begins to break forth1 through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness, and their iniquity rolls up into view, and the nations of the Gentiles2 are like the waves of the sea,3 casting up mire and dirt,4 or all in commotion, and they are hastily preparing to act the part allotted them, when the Lord rebukes the nations,5 when He shall rule them with a rod of iron,6 and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. The Lord declared to His servants, some eighteen months since, that He was then withdrawing His Spirit from the earth;7 and we can see that such is the fact, for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few: and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and Destruction, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand,8 in large capitals, upon almost every thing we behold.
And now what remains to be done, under circumstances like these? I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people, high and low, rich and poor,9 male and female,10 ministers and people, professors of religion11 and non-professors, in order that they may enjoy the Holy Spirit of God to a fullness, and escape the judgments of God,12 which are almost ready to burst upon the nations of the earth. Repent of all your sins, and be baptized13 in water for the remission of them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,14 and receive the ordinance of the laying on of the hands15 of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power,16 that ye may receive the Holy Spirit of God;17 and this is according to the Holy Scriptures,18 and the Book of Mormon;19 and the only way that man can enter into the celestial kingdom.20 These are the requirements of the new covenant,21 or first principles of the Gospel of Christ:22 then “Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity [or love]; for if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”23
The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel,1 and translated into our own language by the gift and power of God,2 after having been hid up3 in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God4 which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph who was sold into Egypt,5 and that the land of America is a promised land unto them,6 and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply7 with the requisitions of the new covenant.8 But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem.9 The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second Psalm,10 will be built upon the land of America,11 “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.” (Isaiah 35:10);12 and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge13 that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. See Joel 2:32; Isaiah 26:20 and 21; Jeremiah 31:12; Psalms 1:5; Ezekiel 34:11, 12 and 13.14 These are testimonies that the Good Shepherd15 will put forth His own sheep, and lead them out16 from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day,17 to Zion, and to Jerusalem;18 besides many more testimonies which might be brought.
And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation;19 pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake20 will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land,21 to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country.22 The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant,23 have already commenced gathering together to Zion,24 which is in the state of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded me to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me,25 and that to Him I am accountable for every word I say,26 wishing27 nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation;28 therefore, “Fear God, and give
glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.”1 Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant,2 and flee to Zion,3 before the overflowing scourge4 overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found,5 is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.
(Signed) JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—DHC 1:312-316.
The “Olive Leaf”6 is the name given by the Prophet to the wonderful revelation known as Sec. 88, in the Doctrine and Covenants. There are few, if any, revelations given to the Church—and to the world if the world will receive them—greater than this “Olive Leaf, plucked from the Tree of Paradise.” In this letter to W. W. Phelps, one of the presiding brethren in Missouri, the Prophet raises a warning voice based upon the word of the Lord as revealed in the revelation and correspondence from Missouri.
I send you the “olive leaf”7 which we have plucked from the Tree of Paradise,8 the Lord’s message of peace to us; for though our brethren in Zion indulge in feelings towards us, which are not according to the requirements of the new covenant,9 yet, we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord approves of us,10 and has accepted us, and established His name in Kirtland11 for the salvation of the nations;12 for the Lord will have a place whence His word will go forth,13 in these last days, in purity; for if Zion will not purify herself,14 so as to be approved of in all things,15 in His sight, He will seek another people;16 for His work will go on until Israel is gathered,17 and they who will not hear His voice,18 must expect to feel His wrath.19 Let me say unto you, seek to purify yourselves,20 and also the inhabitants of Zion,21 lest the Lord’s anger be kindled to fierceness.22
Repent, repent, is the voice of God to Zion;23 and strange as it may appear, yet it is true, mankind will persist in self-justification until all their iniquity is exposed, and their char-
acter past being redeemed, and that which is treasured up in their hearts1 be exposed to the gaze of mankind. I say to you (and what I say to you I say to all),2 hear the warning voice3 of God, lest Zion fall, and the Lord swear in His wrath the inhabitants of Zion shall not enter into His rest.4
The brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for, knowing the terrors of the Lord,5 they greatly fear for you. You will see that the Lord commanded us, in Kirtland, to build a house of God, and establish a school for the Prophets,6 this is the word of the Lord to us,7 and we must, yea, the Lord helping us,8 we will obey: as on conditions of our obedience He has promised us great things; yea, even a visit from the heavens to honor us with His own presence.9 We greatly fear before the Lord10 lest we should fail of this great honor, which our Master proposes to confer on us; we are seeking for humility and great faith11 lest we be ashamed in His presence.12 Our hearts are greatly grieved at the spirit which is breathed both in your letter and that of Brother Gilbert’s, the very spirit which is wasting the strength of Zion13 like a pestilence; and if it is not detected and driven from you, it will ripen Zion for the threatened judgments of God.14 Remember God sees the secret springs of human action,15 and knows the hearts of all living.16
Brother, suffer us to speak plainly,17 for God has respect to the feelings of His Saints,18 and He will not suffer them to be tantalized with impunity. * * * All we can say by way of conclusion is, if the fountain of our tears19 be not dried up, we will still weep for Zion.20 This from your brother who trembles for Zion,21 and for the wrath of heaven,22 which awaits her if she repents not.23
(Signed) JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—DHC 1:316-317.
We salute you, by this our epistle,24 in the bonds of love,25 rejoicing in your steadfastness26 in the faith which is in Christ Jesus27 our Lord;28 and we desire your prosperity29 in the ways of truth and righteousness,30 praying for you continually,31 that your
faith fail not,1 and that you may overcome all the evils2 with which you are surrounded, and become pure and holy3 before God, even our Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.4
It has seemed good unto the Holy Spirit and unto us,5 to send this our epistle to you by the hand of our beloved Brother6 Salmon Gee, your messenger, who has been ordained by us, in obedience to the commandments of God, to the office of Elder to preside over the Church in Thompson,7 taking the oversight thereof,8 to lead you and to teach the things which are according to godliness;9 in whom we have great confidence,10 as we presume also you have, we therefore say to you, yea, not us only, but the Lord also, receive him as such, knowing that the Lord has appointed him to this office for your good, holding him up by your prayers,11 praying for him continually12 that he may be endowed with wisdom and understanding13 in the knowledge of the Lord,14 that through him you may be kept from evil spirits,15 and all strifes and dissensions,16 and grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.17
Brethren beloved,18 continue in brotherly love,19 walk in meekness,20 watching unto prayer,21 that you be not overcome.22 Follow after peace,23 as said our beloved brother Paul, that you may be the children of our Heavenly Father,24 and not give occasion for stumbling,25 to Saint or sinner. Finally, brethren, pray for us,26 that we may be enabled to do the work whereunto we are called,27 that you may enjoy the mysteries of God,28 even a fullness;29 and may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.30 Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., SIDNEY RIGDON, FREDERICK G. WILLIAMS.—DHC 1:324-325.
Dear Brother Carter:—Your letter to Brother Jared is just put into my hand, and I have carefully perused its contents, and embrace this opportunity to answer it. We proceed to answer your questions: first concerning you labor in the region31 where you live; we acquiesce in your feelings on this subject
until the mouth of the Lord shall name.1 Respecting the vision you speak of we do not consider ourselves bound2 to receive any revelation from any one man or woman without his being legally constituted and ordained to that authority,3 and giving sufficient proof4 of it.
I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God5 for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the impropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger,6 it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom.7 Respecting an apostate, or one who has been cut off from the Church, and who wishes to come in again, the law of our Church8 expressly says that such shall repent,9 and be baptized, and be admitted as at the first.
The duty of a High Priest10 is to administer in spiritual and holy things, and to hold communion with God;11 but not to exercise monarchial government, or to appoint meetings for the Elders without their consent. And again, it is the High Priests’ duty to be better qualified to teach principles and doctrines, than the Elders; for the office of Elder is an appendage12 to the High Priesthood, and it concentrates and centers in one. And again, the process of laboring with members: We are to deal with them precisely as the Scriptures direct. If thy brother trespass against thee, take him between him and thee alone;13 and, if he make thee satisfaction, thou hast saved thy brother; and if not, proceed to take another with thee, etc., and when there is no Bishop, they are to be tried by the voice of the Church;14 and if an Elder, or a High Priest be present, he is to take the lead15 in managing the business; but if not, such as have the highest authority should preside.
With respect to preparing to go to Zion:—First it would be pleasing to the Lord that the church or churches going to Zion should be organized,16 and a suitable person appointed who is well acquainted with the condition of the church, and he be sent to Kirtland to inform the Bishop, and procure a license17
from him agreeable to the revelation:1 by so doing you will prevent confusion2 and disorder, and escape many difficulties that attend an unorganized band in journeying in the last days.
And again, those in debt, should in all cases pay their debts;3 and the rich are in no wise to cast out the poor,4 or leave them behind, for it is said that the poor shall inherit the earth.5
You quoted a passage in Jeremiah, with regard to journeying to Zion;6 the word of the Lord stands sure,7 so let it be done.8
There are two paragraphs in your letter which I do not commend, as they are written blindly. Speaking of the Elders being sent like lightning from the bow9 of Judah; the second, no secrets in the councils of Zion. You mention these as if fear rested upon your mind, otherwise we cannot understand it. And again we never inquire at the hand of God10 for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case; and that in a council of High Priests. * * *
It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God,11 or to come into His presence; and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence,12 to satisfy the queries of individuals, especially about things the knowledge of which men ought to obtain13 in all sincerity, before God, for themselves, in humility by the prayer of faith;14 and more especially a Teacher or a High Priest in the Church. I speak these things not by way of reproach, but by way of instruction;15 and I speak as if acquainted with you,16 whereas we are strangers to each other in the flesh.
I love your soul, and the souls of the children of men,17 and pray and do all I can for the salvation of all.18
I now close by sending you a salutation of peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be and abide with you all.19 Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—DHC 1:338-339.
Brother Edward Partridge:
Sir:—I proceed to answer your questions, concerning the consecration of property:20—First, it is not right to condescend to very great particulars in taking inventories. The fact is this,
a man is bound by the law1 of the Church, to consecrate to the Bishop, before he can be considered a legal heir2 to the kingdom of Zion;3 and this, too, without constraint;4 and unless he does this, he cannot be acknowledged before the Lord on the Church Book;5 therefore, to condescend to particulars, I will tell you that every man must be his own judge6 how much he should receive, and how much he should suffer to remain in the hands of the Bishop.7 I speak of those who consecrate more than they need8 for the support of themselves and their families.
The matter of consecration must be done by the mutual consent9 of both parties; for to give the Bishop power to say how much every man shall have,10 and he be obliged to comply with the Bishop’s judgment, is giving to the Bishop more power than a king has; and, upon the other hand, to let every man say how much he needs, and the Bishop be obliged to comply with his judgment, is to throw Zion into confusion, and make a slave of the Bishop. The fact is, there must be a balance or equilibrium of power, between the Bishop and the people; and thus harmony and good-will may be preserved among you.
Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the Bishop in Zion, and then receiving an inheritance back, must reasonably show to the Bishop that they need as much as they claim. But in case the two parties cannot come to a mutual agreement, the Bishop is to have nothing to do about receiving such consecrations; and the case must be laid before a council of twelve High Priests,11 the Bishop not being one of the council, but he is to lay the case before them.
* * *
We were not a little surprised to hear that some of our letters of a public nature, which we sent for the good of Zion, have been kept back from the Bishops. This is conduct which we highly disapprobate.
First, in relation to the poor: When the Bishops are appointed according to our recommendation, it will devolve upon them to see to the poor,12 according to the laws of the Church.13
* * *
Say to the brothers Hulet and to all others, that the Lord never authorized them to say that the devil, his angels, or the sons of perdition,1 should ever be restored; for their state of destiny was not revealed to man, is not revealed, nor ever shall be revealed, save to those who are made partakers thereof:2 consequently those who teach this doctrine have not received it of the Spirit of the Lord.3 Truly Brother Oliver declared it to be the doctrine of devils.4 We, therefore, command that this doctrine be taught no more in Zion. We sanction the decision of the Bishop and his council, in relation to this doctrine being a bar to communion.
* * *
We conclude our letter by the usual salutation, in token of the new and everlasting covenant.5 We hasten to close, because the mail is just going.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., SIDNEY RIGDON, F. G. WILLIAMS.
P.S.—We feel gratified with the way in which Brother William W. Phelps is conducting the Star at present, we hope he will seek to render it more and more interesting. In relation to the size of Bishoprics: When Zion is once properly regulated there will be a Bishop to each square of the size6 of the one we send you with this; but at present it must be done according to wisdom.7 It is needful, brethren, that you should be all of one heart, and of one mind,8 in doing the will of the Lord.9
There should exist the greatest freedom and familiarity among the rulers in Zion.
We were exceedingly sorry to hear the complaint that was made in Brother Edward Partridge’s letter, that the letters attending the Olive Leaf had been kept from him, as it is meet that he should know all things in relation to Zion,10 as the Lord has appointed him11 to be a judge in Zion.12 We hope, dear brethren, that the like occurrence will not take place again. When we direct letters to Zion to any of the High Priests, which pertain to the regulation of her affairs, we always design that they should be laid before the Bishop,13 so as to enable him to perform his duty. We say so much hoping it will be received in kindness; and our brethren will be careful of one another’s
feelings, and walk in love,1 honoring one another2 more than themselves, as is required by the Lord.3
Yours as ever,
F. G. W.
Kirtland, July 2nd, 1833.
To the Brethren in Zion:
* * *
We are engaged in writing a letter to Eugene [branch] respecting the two Smiths, as we have received two letters from them; one from John Smith, the other from the Elder of the Church [Eden Smith]. As to the gift of tongues,4 all we can say is, that in this place we have received it as the ancients did: we wish you, however, to be careful, lest in this you be deceived.5 Guard against evils which may arise from any accounts given by women,6 or otherwise; be careful in all things lest any root of bitterness spring up among you, and thereby many be defiled.7 Satan will no doubt trouble you about the gift of tongues, unless you are careful; you cannot watch him too closely, nor pray too much. May the Lord give you wisdom8 in all things. In a letter mailed last week, you will doubtless, before you receive this, have obtained information about the New Translation. Consign the box of the Book of Commandments to N. K. Whitney & Co., Kirtland, Geauga county, Ohio, care of Kelly and Walworth, Cleveland, Cuyahoga county, Ohio.
* * *
We conclude by giving our heartiest approbation to every measure calculated for the spread of the truth, in these last days; and our strongest desires, and sincerest prayers for the prosperity of Zion. Say to all the brethren and sisters in Zion, that they have our hearts, our best wishes, and the strongest desires of our spirits for their welfare,9 temporal, spiritual, and
eternal. As ever, we salute you in the name of the Lord Jesus.1 Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
F. G. WILLIAMS.
* * *
September 4.—I wrote as follows to Sister Vienna Jaques,2 at Independence, Missouri:
Dear Sister:—Having a few leisure moments, I sit down to communicate to you a few words, which I know I am under obligation to improve for your satisfaction, if it should be a satisfaction for you to receive a few words from your unworthy brother in Christ. I received your letter some time since, containing a history of your journey and your safe arrival, for which I bless the Lord; I have often felt a whispering since I received your letter, like this: “Joseph, thou art indebted to thy God for the offering of thy Sister Vienna, which proved a savor of life as pertaining to thy pecuniary concerns. Therefore she should not be forgotten of thee, for the Lord hath done this,3 and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter, for she oftentimes calleth on the Lord, saying, O Lord, inspire thy servant Joseph to communicate by letter some word to thine unworthy handmaiden, and say all my sins are forgiven,4 and art thou not content with the chastisement where-with thou hast chastised thy handmaiden?” Yea, sister, this seems to be the whispering of a spirit, and judge ye what spirit it is. I was aware when you left Kirtland that the Lord would chasten5 you, but I prayed fervently6 in the name of Jesus that you might live to receive your inheritance, agreeable to the commandment which was given concerning you.7 I am not at all astonished at what has happened to you, neither to what has happened to Zion, and I could tell all they whys and wherefores of all these calamities. But alas, it is in vain to warn and give precepts, for all men are naturally disposed to walk in their own paths8 as they are pointed out by their own fingers, and are not
willing to consider and walk in the path1 which is pointed out by another, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it,2 although he should be an unerring director, and the Lord his God sent him. Nevertheless I do not feel disposed to cast any reflections, but I feel to cry mightily3 unto the Lord that all things which have happened may work together for good;4 yea, I feel to say, O Lord, let Zion be comforted,5 let her waste places be built up6 and established an hundred fold;7 let Thy Saints come unto Zion8 out of every nation;9 let her be exalted to the third heavens,10 and let Thy judgment be sent forth unto victory;11 and after this great tribulation,12 let Thy blessing fall upon Thy people,13 and let Thy handmaid14 live till her soul shall be satisfied15 in beholding the glory of Zion;16 for notwithstanding her present affliction,17 she shall yet arise and put on her beautiful garments,18 and be the joy and glory of the whole earth.19 Therefore let you heart be comforted;20 live in strict obedience21 to the commandments22 of God, and walk humbly23 before Him, and He will exalt thee in His own due time.24 I will assure you that the Lord has respect unto the offering25 you made. Brother David W. Patten has just returned from his tour to the east, and gives us great satisfaction as to his ministry. He has raised up a church of about eighty-three members in that part of the country where his friends live—in the state of New York. Many were healed through his instrumentality, several cripples were restored.26 As many as twelve that were afflicted came at a time from a distance to be healed; he and others administered in the name of Jesus,27 and they were made whole.28 Thus you see that the laborers29 in the Lord’s vineyard30 are laboring with their might,31 while the day lasts,32 knowing “the night soon cometh when no man can work.”33
(Signed) JOSEPH SMITH.—DHC 1:407-409
November 19.—I wrote as follows, from Kirtland, to Moses C. Nickerson, Mount Pleasant, Upper Canada:
Brother Moses:—We arrived at this place on the fourth ultimo, after a fatiguing journey, during which we were blessed
with usual health. We parted with Father and Mother Nickerson at Buffalo, in good health, and they expressed a degree of satisfaction for the prosperity and blessings of their journey.
Since our arrival here, Brother Sidney has been afflicted with sore eyes, which is probably the reason why you have not previously heard from us, as he was calculating to write you immediately. But though I expect he will undoubtedly write you soon, as his eyes are evidently better, yet, lest you should be impatient to learn something concerning us, I have thought that perhaps a few lines from me, though there may be a lack of fluency according to the literati of the age, might be received with a degree of satisfaction on your part, at least, when you call to mind the near relation with which we are united by the everlasting ties of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.1
We found our families and the Church in this place well, generally. Nothing of consequence happened while we were absent, except the death of one of our brethren—David Johnson—a young man of great worth as a private citizen among us, the loss of whom we justly mourn.
We are favored with frequent intelligence from different sections of our country, respecting the progress of the Gospel, and our prayers are daily2 to our Father, that it may greatly spread, even till all nations shall hear3 the glorious news and come to a knowledge of the truth.4
We have received letters from our brethren in Missouri of late, but we cannot tell, from their contents, the probable extent to which those persons who are desirous to expel them from that country will carry their unlawful and unrighteous purposes. Our brethren have applied to the executive of the state, who has promised them all the assistance that the civil law can give; and in all probability a suit has been commenced ere this.
We are informed, however, that those persons are very violent, and threaten immediate extermination upon all those who profess our doctrine.5 How far they will be suffered to execute their threats, we know not, but we trust in the Lord,6 and leave the event with Him to govern in His own wise providence.7
I shall expect a communication from you on receipt of
this, and hope you will give me information concerning the brethren, their health, faith, etc., also inform me concerning our friends with whom we formed acquaintance.
You are aware, no doubt, dear brother, that anxieties inexpressible crowd themselves continually upon my mind for the Saints, when I consider the many temptations1 to which we are subject, from the cunning and flattery2 of the great adversary of our souls: and I can truly say, with much fervency have I called upon the Lord for our brethren in Canada. And when I call to mind with what readiness they received the word3 of truth by the ministry of Brother Sidney and myself, I am truly under great obligations to humble myself before Him.4
When I contemplate the rapidity with which the great and glorious day of the coming of the Son of Man5 advances, when He shall come to receive His Saints6 unto Himself, where they shall dwell in His presence,7 and be crowned with glory and immortality:8 when I consider that soon the heavens are to be shaken,9 and the earth tremble and reel to and fro;10 and that the heavens are to be unfolded as a scroll11 when it is rolled up; and that every mountain and island are to flee away,12 I cry out in my heart,13 What manner of persons ought we to be14 in all holy conversation and godliness!15
You remember the testimony which I bore in the name of the Lord Jesus, concerning the great work16 which He has brought forth in the last days. You know my manner of communication, how that in weakness and simplicity,17 I declared to you what the Lord had brought forth by the ministering of His holy angels18 to me for this generation. I pray that the Lord may enable you to treasure these things in your mind,19 for I know that His Spirit will bear testimony20 to all who seek diligently21 after knowledge from Him. I hope you will search the Scriptures22 to see whether these things are not also consistent with those things which the ancient Prophets and Apostles have written.23
I remember Brother Freeman and wife, Ransom also, and Sister Lydia, and little Charles, with all the brethren and sisters. I entreat for an interest in all your prayers24 before the throne of mercy,25 in the name of Jesus. I hope the Lord will grant
that I may see you all again, and above all that we may overcome, and sit1 down together in the kingdom of our Father.
Your brother, etc.
The character of Sidney Rigdon is here vividly portrayed, followed by an earnest prayer for his salvation and a prophecy concerning his posterity. It is true that his generations have been hunted for, and some of them found. His son, John W., joined the Church many years ago after wandering in the wilderness of darkness. More recently one of his grandsons, now an old man, joined the Church and another grandson has expressed himself favorably towards the Church. In this way, in part at least, we see the fulfilment of this earnest plea by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Nothing of note occurred from the falling of the stars on the 13th, to this date, November 19th, when my heart is somewhat sorrowful,2 but I feel to trust in the Lord,3 the God of Jacob.4 I have learned in my travels that man is treacherous5 and selfish, but few excepted.
Brother Sidney is a man whom I love, but he is not capable of that pure and steadfast6 love for those who are his benefactors that should characterize a President of the Church of Christ.7 This, with some other little things, such as a selfishness and independence of mind, which too often manifested destroy the confidence8 of those who would lay down their lives for him9—these are his faults. But notwithstanding these things, he is a very great and good man; a man of great power of words,10 and can gain the friendship of his hearers very quickly. He is a man whom God will uphold,11 if he will continue faithful12 to his calling. O God, grant that he may, for the Lord’s sake. Amen.
And again, blessed be Brother Sidney: notwithstanding he shall be high and lifted up,13 yet he shall bow down under the yoke14 like unto an ass that croucheth beneath his burden, that learneth his master’s will by the stroke of the rod; thus saith the Lord: yet, the Lord will have mercy on him,15 and he shall bring forth much fruit,16 even as the vine of the choice grape, when her clusters are ripe, before the time of the gleaning17
of the vintage; and the Lord shall make his heart merry as with sweet wine,1 because of Him who putteth forth His hand,2 and lifteth him up3 out of deep mire,4 and pointeth him out the way,5 and guideth his feet6 when he stumbles,7 and humbleth him in his pride.8 Blessed are his generations:9 nevertheless one shall hunt after them10 as a man hunteth after an ass that has strayed11 in the wilderness, and straightway findeth him12 and bringeth him into the fold.13 Thus shall the Lord watch over14 his generation, that they may be saved.15 Even so, Amen.
The man who willeth to do well, we should extol his virtues, and speak not of his faults behind his back. A man who wilfully turneth away from his friend without a cause,16 is not easily forgiven.17 The kindness of a man should never be forgotten. That person who never forsaketh his trust,18 should ever have the highest place of regard in our hearts,19 and our love should never fail, but increase more and more,20 and this is my disposition and these my sentiments.
The following is an excerpt taken from a communication to the Saints in Zion, who had been driven from their homes and basely persecuted by a mob in Jackson County, Missouri.
Kirtland, December 5, 1833.
* * *
It appears, brethren, that the above statements were made mostly for reports, and there is no certainty of their being correct; therefore, it is difficult for us to advise, and we can only say, that the destinies of all people are in the hands21 of a just God,22 and He will do no injustice to any one;23 and this one thing is sure, that they who will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution;24 and before their robes are made white in the blood of the Lamb, it is to be expected, according to John the Revelator, they will pass through great tribulation.25
I wish, when you receive this letter, that you would collect every particular, concerning the mob, from the beginning, and send us a correct statement of facts, as they occurred from time to time, that we may be enabled to give the public correct information on the subject; and inform us also of the situation of the brethren, with respect to their means of sustenance.
I would inform you that it is not the will of the Lord for you to sell your lands in Zion,26 if means can possibly be procured for your sustenance without. Every exertion should be made to maintain the cause27 you have espoused, and to contribute to the necessities of one another,28 as much as possible, in this your great calamity, and remember not to murmur29 at
the dealings1 of God with his creatures.2 You are not as yet3 brought into as trying4 circumstances5 as were the ancient Prophets and Apostles.6 Call to mind Daniel,7 the three Hebrew children,8 Jeremiah,9 Paul,10 Stephen,11 and many others, too numerous to mention, who were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, and wandered about in sheep skins and goat skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and in mountains, and hid in dens, and caves of the earth; yet they all obtained a good report through faith;12 and amidst all their afflictions they rejoiced13 that they were counted worthy14 to receive persecution for Christ’s sake.15
We know not what we shall be called to pass through16 before Zion is delivered and established; therefore, we have great need to live near to God,17 and always be in strict obedience18 to all His commandments, that we may have a conscience void of offense toward God and man.19 It is your privilege to use every lawful means in your power to seek redress20 for your grievances from your enemies,21 and prosecute them to the extent of the law; but it will be impossible for us to render you any temporal assistance, as our means are already exhausted, and we are deeply in debt, and know of no means whereby we shall be able to extricate ourselves.
The inhabitants of this county threaten our destruction, and we know not how soon they may be permitted to follow the example of the Missourians; but our trust is in God,22 and we are determined, His grace assisting us,23 to maintain the cause24 and hold out faithful unto the end,25 that we may be crowned with crowns of celestial glory,26 and enter into the rest27 that is prepared for the children of God.28
We are now distributing the type, and intend to commence setting today, and issue a paper the last of this week, or beginning of next. We wrote to Elder Phelps some time since, and also sent by Elder Hyde, for the list of names of subscribers to the Star, which we have not yet received; and, until we receive it, the most of the subscribers will be deprived of the paper; and when you receive this, if you have not sent the list, I wish you to attend to it immediately, as much inconvenience will follow a delay.
* * *
We learn by Elder Phelps, that the brethren have sur-
rendered their arms to the Missourians, and are fleeing across the river. If that is the case, it is not meet that they should recommence hostilities with them; but, if not, you should maintain the ground1 as long as there is a man left, as the spot of ground upon which you were located, is the place appointed of the Lord for your inheritance,2 and it is right in the sight of God3 that you contend for it to the last.
You will recollect that the Lord has said, that Zion should not be removed out of her place;4 therefore the land should not be sold,5 but be held by the Saints, until the Lord in His wisdom6 shall open a way for your return; and until that time, if you can purchase a tract of land in Clay county, for present emergencies, it is right you should do so, if you can do it, and not sell your land in Jackson county. It is not safe for us to send you a written revelation7 on the subject, but what is stated above is according to wisdom.8 I haste to a close to give room for Brother Oliver, and remain yours in the bonds of the everlasting covenant,9
Joseph Smith, Jun.—DHC 1:448-451
This letter depicts the tenderness and sympathy of the Prophet towards the Saints in Missouri, and his desire to encourage and strengthen them by faith and hope in this great hour of their deep affliction.
Kirtland Mills, Ohio, December 10, 1833.
Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, A. S. Gilbert, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and all the Saints whom it may concern:
Beloved Brethren:—This morning’s mail brought letters from Bishop Partridge, and Elders Corrill and Phelps, all mailed at Liberty, November 19th, which gave us the melancholy intelligence of your flight from the land of your inheritance,10 having been driven before the face of your enemies11 in that place.
From previous letters we learned that a number of our brethren had been slain, but we could not learn from the letters referred to above, that there had been more than one killed, and that one Brother Barber; and that Brother Dibble was
wounded in the bowels. We were thankful to learn that no more had been slain, and our daily prayers are that the Lord will not suffer His Saints,1 who have gone up to His land to keep His commandments, to stain His holy mountain2 with their blood.
I cannot learn from any communication by the Spirit to me, that Zion has forfeited her claim to a celestial crown, notwithstanding the Lord has caused her to be thus afflicted, except it may be some individuals, who have walked in disobedience,3 and forsaken the new covenant;4 all such will be made manifest by their works5 in due time. I have always expected that Zion would suffer some affliction,6 from what I could learn from the commandments which have been given. But I would remind you of a certain clause in one which says, that after much tribulation cometh the blessing.7 By this, and also others, and also one received of late, I know that Zion, in the due time of the Lord,8 will be redeemed;9 but how many will be the days of her purification,10 tribulation,11 and affliction, the Lord has kept hid from my eyes;12 and when I inquire concerning this subject, the voice of the Lord is: Be still, and know that I am God;13 all those who suffer for my name14 shall reign with me,15 and he that layeth down his life for my sake16 shall find it again.17
Now, there are two things of which I am ignorant; and the Lord will not show them unto me,18 perhaps for a wise purpose in Himself19—I mean in some respects—and they are these: Why God has suffered so great a calamity to come upon Zion, and what the great moving cause of this great affliction is; and again, by what means he will return her back to her inheritance,20 with songs of everlasting joy21 upon her head.22 These two things, brethren, are in part kept back that they are not plainly shown unto me; but there are some things that are plainly manifest23 which have incurred the displeasure of the Almighty.24
When I contemplate upon all things that have been manifested, I am aware that I ought not to murmur,25 and do not murmur, only in this, that those who are innocent are compelled to suffer26 for the iniquities of the guilty; and I cannot account
for this, only on this wise, that the saying of the Savior has not been strictly observed: “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; or if thy right arm offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee.”1 Now the fact is, if any of the members of our body is disordered,2 the rest of our body will be affected with it, and then all are brought into bondage together; and yet, notwithstanding all this, it is with difficulty that I can restrain my feelings when I know that you, my brethren, with whom I have had so many happy hours—sitting, as it were, in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;3 and also, having the witness which I feel, and ever have felt, of the purity of your motives—are cast out, and are as strangers and pilgrims on the earth,4 exposed to hunger, cold, nakedness, peril, sword—I say when I contemplate this, it is with difficulty that I can keep from complaining and murmuring against this dispensation; but I am sensible that this is not right, and may God grant that notwithstanding your great afflictions and sufferings, there may not anything separate us from the love of Christ.5
Brethren, when we learn your sufferings, it awakens every sympathy of our hearts; it weighs us down;6 we cannot refrain from tears,7 yet, we are not able to realize, only in part, your sufferings: and I often hear the brethren saying, they wish they were with you, that they might bear a part of your sufferings; and I myself should have been with you, had not God prevented it in the order of His providence,8 that the yoke of affliction9 might be less grievous upon you, God having forewarned me,10 concerning these things, for your sake; and also, Elder Cowdery could not lighten your afflictions by tarrying longer with you, for his presence would have so much the more enraged your enemies; therefore God hath dealt mercifully11 with us. O brethren, let us be thankful12 that it is as well with us as it is, and we are yet alive and peradventure, God hath laid up in store13 great good for us in this generation, and may grant that we may yet glorify His name.14
I feel thankful that there have no more denied the faith;15 I pray God in the name of Jesus that you all may be kept in the faith16 unto the end:17 let your sufferings be what they may, it is better in the eyes of God18 that you should die, than that
you should give up the land of Zion, the inheritances which you have purchased1 with your moneys; for every man that giveth not up his inheritance, though he should die,2 yet, when the Lord shall come, he shall stand upon it,3 and with Job, in his flesh he shall see God.4 Therefore, this is my counsel, that you retain your lands, even unto the uttermost, and employ every lawful means to seek redress5 of your enemies; and pray to God, day and night,6 to return you in peace and in safety to the lands of your inheritance:7 and when the judge fail you, appeal unto the executive; and when the executive fail you, appeal unto the president;8 and when the president fail you, and all laws fail you, and the humanity of the people fail you, and all things else fail you but God alone,9 and you continue to weary Him with your importunings, as the poor woman did the unjust judge,10 He will not fail to execute judgment upon your enemies,11 and to avenge His own elect that cry unto Him day and night.12
Behold, He will not fail you!13 He will come with ten thousand of His Saints,14 and all His adversaries15 shall be destroyed with the breath of His lips!16 All those who keep their inheritances, notwithstanding they should be beaten and driven,17 shall be likened unto the wise virgins who took oil in their lamps.18 But all those who are unbelieving and fearful,19 will be likened unto the foolish virgins,20 who took no oil in their lamps: and when they shall return and say unto the Saints, Give us of your lands—behold, there will be no room found for them.21 As respects giving deeds, I would advise you to give deeds as far as the brethren have legal and just claims for them, and then let every man answer to God for the disposal of them.
I would suggest some ideas to Elder Phelps, not knowing that they will be of any real benefit but suggest them for consideration. I would be glad if he were here, were it possible for him to come, but dare not advise, not knowing what shall befall us,22 as we are under very heavy and serious threatenings from a great many people in this place.
But, perhaps, the people in Liberty may feel willing, God having power to soften the hearts23 of all men, to have a press established there; and if not, in some other place; any place where it can be the most convenient, and it is possible to get to it; God will be willing to have it in any place where it can be established in safety. We must be wise as serpents and
harmless as doves.1 Again, I desire that Elder Phelps should collect all the information, and give us a true history of the beginning and rise of Zion, and her calamities.2
Now hear the prayer of your unworthy brother in the new and everlasting covenant:—O my God!3 Thou who hast called and chosen a few,4 through Thy weak instrument by commandment, and sent them to Missouri, a place which Thou didst call Zion, and commanded Thy servants to consecrate5 it unto Thyself for a place of refuge and safety6 for the gathering of Thy Saints,7 to be built up a holy city unto Thyself;8 and as Thou hast said that no other place should be appointed9 like unto this, therefore, I ask Thee in the name of Jesus Christ,10 to return Thy people unto their houses and their inheritances, to enjoy the fruit of their labors;11 that all the waste places may be built up;12 that all the enemies of Thy people,13 who will not repent and turn unto Thee,14 may be destroyed from off the face of the land;15 and let a house be built and established unto Thy name;16 and let all the losses that Thy people have sustained, be rewarded unto them, even more than four-fold,17 that the borders of Zion may be enlarged forever;18 and let her be established no more to be thrown down;19 and let all Thy Saints, when they are scattered as sheep,20 and are persecuted, flee unto Zion,21 and be established in the midst of her;22 and let her be organized23 according to Thy law; and let this prayer ever be recorded before Thy face. Give Thy Holy Spirit unto my brethren,24 unto whom I write; send Thine angels to guard them,25 and deliver them from all evil;26 and when they turn their faces toward Zion, and bow down before Thee and pray, may their sins never come up before Thy face;27 neither have place in the book of Thy remembrance;28 and may they depart from all their iniquities.29 Provide food for them as Thou doest for the ravens;30 provide clothing to cover their nakedness,31 and houses that they may dwell32 therein; give unto them friends in abundance, and let their names be recorded in the Lamb’s book of life,33 eternally before Thy face.34 Amen.
Finally, brethren, the grace of our Lord35 Jesus Christ be with you all until His coming in His kingdom.36 Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—DHC 1:453-456.
On the eighteenth day of December, 1833, the Prophet and a number of the leading Elders of the Church assembled in the printing office which had just been built and that office was dedicated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Following this ceremony the Prophet proceeded to bless Oliver Cowdery and several members of the Smith family, after having conferred upon Joseph Smith, Sen., the office and Priesthood of Patriarch of the Church. The blessings follow.
Blessed of the Lord1 is Brother Cowdery, nevertheless there are two evils in him2 that he must needs forsake, or he cannot altogether escape the buffetings3 of the adversary. If he forsake these evils he shall be forgiven, and shall be made like unto the bow which the Lord hath set in the heavens;4 and shall be a sign and an ensign unto the nations.5 Behold, he is blessed of the Lord for his constancy and steadfastness6 in the work of the Lord;7 wherefore, he shall be blessed in his generation,8 and they shall never be cut off,9 and he shall be helped out of many troubles; and if he keep the commandments, and hearken unto the counsel of the Lord,10 his rest shall be glorious.11
Thus spoke the Seer,12 and these are the words which fell from his lips while the visions of the Almighty13 were open to his view, saying:
Blessed of the Lord is my father,14 for he shall stand in the midst of his posterity and shall be comforted by their blessings when he is old and bowed down with years, and shall be called a prince over them,15 and shall be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood,16 even the keys of that ministry:17 for he shall assemble together his posterity like unto Adam;18 and the assembly which he called shall be an example for my father, for thus it is written of him:
Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch and Methuselah, who were High Priests, with the residue of his posterity, who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called
him Michael, the Prince, the Archangel. And the Lord administered comfort unto Adam, and said unto him, I have set thee to be at the head: a multitude of nations shall come of thee, and thou art a Prince over them forever.1
So shall it be with my father: he shall be called a prince over his posterity,2 holding the keys of the patriarchal Priesthood3 over the kingdom of God on earth,4 even the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and he shall sit in the general assembly of Patriarchs,5 even in council with the Ancient of Days6 when he shall sit and all the Patriarchs with him and shall enjoy his right and authority under the direction of the Ancient of Days.
And blessed also, is my mother, for she is a mother in Israel,7 and shall be a partaker with my father in all his patriarchal blessings.
And blessed, also, are my brothers and my sisters, for they shall yet find redemption8 in the house of the Lord, and their offsprings shall be a blessing,9 a joy10 and a comfort unto them.11
Blessed is my mother, for her soul is ever filled with benevolence and philanthropy; and notwithstanding her age, she shall yet receive strength and be comforted in the midst of her house: and thus saith the Lord. She shall have eternal life.12
And again, blessed is my father, for the hand of the Lord13 shall be over him, and he shall be full of the Holy Ghost;14 for he shall predict whatsoever shall befall his posterity unto the latest generation,15 and shall see the affliction of his children pass away, and their enemies under their feet:16 and when his head is fully ripe he shall behold himself as an olive tree whose branches are bowed down with much fruit. Behold, the blessings of Joseph by the hand of his progenitor,17 shall come upon the head of my father and his seed after him, to the uttermost, even he shall be a fruitful bough; he shall be as a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well whose branches run over the wall,18 and his seed shall abide in strength,19 and the arms of their hands shall be made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob,20 and the God of his fathers: even the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, shall help him and his seed after him: even the Almighty shall bless him with blessings of heaven above and his seed after him, and the blessings of the deep that lieth under: and his seed shall rise up and call him blessed.21 He shall be as the vine of the choice grape when her clusters are fully
ripe: and he shall also possess a mansion on high,1 even in the Celestial Kingdom.2 His counsel shall be sought3 for by thousands, and he shall have place in the house of the Lord;4 for he shall be mighty in the council of the elders,5 and his days shall yet be lengthened out:6 and when he shall go hence7 he shall go in peace,8 and his rest shall be glorious;9 and his name shall be had in remembrance10 to the end. Amen.
Oliver Cowdery, Clerk and Recorder.—MSS., Dec. 18, 1833.
Blessed of the Lord11 is my brother Hyrum for the integrity of his heart;12 he shall be girt about with strength, truth13 and faithfulness14 shall be the strength of his loins.15 From generation to generation16 he shall be a shaft in the hand of his God17 to execute judgment upon his enemies:18 and he shall be hid by the hand of the Lord19 that none of his secret parts shall be discovered20 unto his enemies, unto his hurt. His name shall be called a blessing among men.21 His acquaintance shall be among kings, and he shall be sought for that he may sit in council,22 by nations and kings that are afar off;23 and thousands of souls shall he be an instrument in the hand of his God in bringing unto salvation.24 And when he is in trouble, and great tribulation has come upon him, he shall remember the God of Jacob,25 and he shall shield him26 from the power of Satan.27 He shall receive counsel in the house of the Most High that he may be strengthened in hope. He shall be as a cooling spring that breaketh forth at the foot of the mountain, overshadowed with choice trees bowed down with ripe fruit, that yieldeth both nourishment to the appetite and quencheth the thirst, thereby yielding refreshment to the weary traveller: and the goings of his feet shall ever be by streams of living water.28 He shall not fail29 nor want for knowledge, for the Lord his God shall put forth his hand and lift him up and shall call upon him with his voice in the way wherein he is travelling, that he may be established forever.30 He shall stand in the tracks of his father and be numbered among those who hold the right of Patriarchal Priesthood,31 even the Evangelical Priesthood32 and power shall be upon him, that in his old age his name may be magnified33 on the earth. Behold he shall be blessed with an abundance of riches of the earth—gold,34
silver, and treasures of precious stones, of diamonds and platina. His chariots shall be numerous, and his cattle shall multiply abundantly:1 horses, mules, asses, camels, dromedaries, and swift beasts,2 that he may magnify the name of the Lord3 and benefit the poor. Yea, this shall be the desire of his soul,4 to comfort the needy5 and bind up the broken in heart.6 His children shall be many and his posterity numerous, and they shall rise up and call him blessed.7 And he shall have eternal life.8 Amen.
Oliver Cowdery, Clerk and Recorder. Given in Kirtland, December 18, 1833.
Blessed of the Lord is my brother Samuel, because the Lord shall say unto him, Samuel, Samuel;9 therefore he shall be made a teacher in the house of the Lord, and the Lord shall mature his mind in judgment, and thereby he shall obtain the esteem and fellowship of his brethren,10 and his soul shall be established and he shall benefit the house of the Lord, because he shall obtain answer to prayer in his faithfulness.11
Brother William is as the fierce lion,12 which divideth not the spoil13 because of his strength; and in the pride of his heart he will neglect the more weighty matters14 until his soul is bowed down15 in sorrow; and then he shall return and call on the name16 of his God, and shall find forgiveness, and shall wax valiant, therefore, he shall be saved unto the uttermost;17 and as the roaring lion of the forest in the midst of his prey,18 so shall the hand of his generation be lifted up against those who are set on high,19 that fight against the God of Israel;20 fearless and undaunted shall they be in battle, in avenging the wrongs of the innocent, and relieving the oppressed;21 therefore, the blessings of the God of Jacob shall be in the midst of his house,22 notwithstanding his rebellious heart.23
And now, O God, let the residue of my father’s house24 ever come up in remembrance before Thee,25 that Thou mayest save them from the hand of the oppressor,26 and establish their feet upon the Rock of Ages, that they may have place in Thy house, and be saved in Thy kingdom;27 and let all things be even as I have said, for Christ’s sake. Amen.
Dear Brethren in Christ,1 and Companions in Tribulation:2—It seemeth good unto us to drop a few lines to you giving you some instruction relative to conducting the affairs of the kingdom3 of God, which has been committed unto us in these latter times,4 by the will and testament of our Mediator,5 whose intercessions in our behalf6 are lodged in the bosom of the Eternal Father,7 and ere long will burst with blessings upon the heads of all the faithful.8
We have all been children,9 and are too much so at the present time; but we hope in the Lord10 that we may grow in grace11 and be prepared for all things12 which the bosom of futurity may disclose unto us. Time is rapidly rolling on, and the prophecies must be fulfilled.13 The days of tribulation14 are fast approaching, and the time to test the fidelity of the Saints has come. Rumor with her ten thousand tongues15 is diffusing her uncertain sounds16 in almost every ear; but in these times of sore trial, let the Saints be patient and see the salvation of God.17 Those who cannot endure persecution,18 and stand19 in the day of affliction,20 cannot stand21 in the day when the Son of God shall burst the veil, and appear in all the glory of His Father, with all the holy angels.22
On the subject of ordination, a few words are necessary. In many instances there has been too much haste in this thing, and the admonition of Paul has been too slightingly passed over, which says, “Lay hands suddenly upon no man.”23 Some have been ordained to the ministry, and have never acted in that capacity, or magnified their calling24 at all. Such may expect to lose their appointment,25 except they awake and magnify their office.26 Let the Elders abroad be exceedingly careful upon this subject, and when they ordain a man27 to the holy ministry,28 let him be a faithful man, who is able to teach others also;29 that the cause of Christ suffer not. It is not the multitude of preachers that is to bring about the glorious millennium! but it is those who are “called, and chosen, and faithful.”30
Let the Elders be exceedingly careful about unnecessarily disturbing and harrowing up the feelings of the people. Remember that your business is to preach the Gospel in all humility1 and meekness,2 and warn sinners to repent3 and come to Christ.4
Avoid contentions5 and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds,6 who do not desire to know the truth.7 Remember that “it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words.”8 If they receive not your testimony9 in one place, flee to another,10 remembering to cast no reflections, nor throw out any bitter sayings. If you do your duty,11 it will be just as well with you,12 as though all men embraced the Gospel.13
Be careful14 about sending boys to preach the Gospel to the world;15 if they go let them be accompanied by some one who is able to guide them in the proper channel,16 lest they become puffed up,17 and fall under condemnation,18 and into the snare of the devil.19 Finally, in these critical times, be careful; call on the Lord day and night;20 beware of pride;21 beware of false brethren, who will creep in among you to spy out your liberties.22 Awake to righteousness, and sin not;23 let your light shine,24 and show yourselves workmen that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.25 Apply yourselves diligently to study,26 that your minds may be stored with all necessary information.27
We remain your brethren in Christ,28 anxiously praying for the day of redemption to come,29 when iniquity shall be swept from the earth,30 and everlasting righteousness brought in.31 Farewell. (Dec., 1833.) DHC 1:467-469.
Dear Brethren in Christ,1 and Companions in Tribulation:2
* * *
Consider for a moment, brethren, the fulfillment of the words of the prophet; for we behold that darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the minds3 of the inhabitants thereof—that crimes of every description are increasing among men—vices of great enormity are practiced—the rising generation growing up in the fullness of pride and arrogance4—the aged losing every sense of conviction, and seemingly banishing every thought of a day of retribution—intemperance, immorality, extravagance, pride, blindness of heart,5 idolatry, the loss of natural affection;6 the love of this world,7 and indifference toward the things of eternity increasing among those who profess a belief in the religion of heaven, and infidelity spreading itself in consequence of the same—men giving themselves up to commit acts of the foulest kind, and deeds of the blackest dye, blaspheming, defrauding, blasting the reputation of neighbors, stealing, robbing, murdering; advocating error and opposing the truth, forsaking the covenant of heaven,8 and denying the faith9 of Jesus—and in the midst of all this, the day of the Lord10 fast approaching when none except those who have won the wedding garment11 will be permitted to eat and drink in the presence of the Bridegroom,12 the Prince of Peace!13
Impressed with the truth of these facts what can be the feelings of those who have been partakers of the heavenly gift14 and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come?15 Who but those that can see the awful precipice
upon which the world of mankind stands in this generation, can labor in the vineyard1 of the Lord without feeling a sense of the world’s deplorable situation? Who but those who have duly considered the condescension of the Father2 of our spirits,3 in providing a sacrifice for His creatures,4 a plan of redemption,5 a power of atonement,6 a scheme of salvation,7 having as its great objects, the bringing of men back into the presence8 of the King of heaven,9 crowning them in the celestial glory,10 and making them heirs with the Son11 to that inheritance which is incorruptible, undefiled, and which fadeth not away12—who but such can realize the importance of a perfect walk13 before all men, and a diligence in calling upon all men14 to partake of these blessings?15 How indescribably glorious are these things to mankind! Of a truth16 they may be considered tidings of great joy to all people;17 and tidings, too, that ought to fill the earth18 and cheer the hearts19 of every one when sounded in his ears.20 The reflection that everyone is to receive according to his own diligence and perseverance21 while in the vineyard, ought to inspire everyone who is called to be a minister of these glad tidings,22 to so improve his talent that he may gain other talents, that when the Master sits down to take an account of the conduct of His servants, it may be said, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will now make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.23
Some may pretend to say that the world in this age is fast increasing in righteousness; that the dark ages of superstition and blindness have passed, when the faith of Christ24 was known and held only by a few, when ecclesiastical power had an almost universal control over Christendom, and the consciences of men were bound by the strong chains of priestly power: but now, the gloomy cloud is burst, and the Gospel is shining with all the resplendent glory of an apostolic day; and that the kingdom of the Messiah is greatly spreading, that the Gospel of our Lord25 is carried to divers nations of the earth, the Scriptures translating into different tongues; the ministers of truth crossing the vast deep to proclaim to men in darkness a risen Savior, and to erect the standard of Emmanuel26 where light has never shone; and that the idol is destroyed, the temple of images forsaken; and those who but a short time previous followed the traditions of their fathers27 and sacrificed their own flesh28 to
appease the wrath of some imaginary god,1 are now raising their voices in the worship of the Most High,2 and are lifting their thoughts up to Him with the full expectation that one day they will meet with a joyful reception in His everlasting kingdom!3
But a moment’s candid reflection upon the principles of these systems, the manner in which they are conducted, the individuals employed, the apparent object held out as an inducement to cause them to act, we think, is sufficient for every candid man to draw a conclusion in his own mind whether this is the order of heaven4 or not. We deem it a just principle,5 and it is one the force of which we believe ought to be duly considered by every individual, that all men are created equal, and that all have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. Consequently, then, we are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive any one of exercising that free independence of mind6 which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family7 as one of its choicest gifts; but we take the liberty (and this we have a right to do) of looking at this order of things a few moments, and contrasting it with the order of God8 as we find it in the sacred Scriptures. In this review, however, we shall present the points as we consider they were really designed by the great Giver to be understood, and the happy results arising from a performance of the requirements of heaven as revealed to every one who obeys them; and the consequence attending a false construction, a misrepresentation, or a forced meaning that was never designed in the mind of the Lord9 when He condescended to speak from the heavens to men10 for their salvation.
* * *
All regularly organized and well established governments have certain laws by which, more or less, the innocent are protected and the guilty punished. The fact admitted that certain laws are good, equitable and just, ought to be binding upon the individual who admits this, and lead him to observe in the strictest manner an obedience to those laws. These laws when
violated, or broken by the individual, must, in justice, convict his mind with a double force, if possible, of the extent and magnitude of his crime; because he could have no plea of ignorance to produce; and his act of transgression was openly committed against light and knowledge.1 But the individual who may be ignorant and imperceptibly transgresses or violates laws, though the voice of the country requires that he should suffer, yet he will never feel that remorse of conscience2 that the other will, and that keen, cutting reflection will never rise in his breast that otherwise would, had he done the deed, or committed the offense in full conviction that he was breaking the law of his country, and having previously acknowledged the same to be just. It is not our intention by these remarks, to attempt to place the law of man3 on a parallel with the law of heaven;4 because we do not consider that it is formed in the same wisdom and propriety; neither do we consider that it is sufficient in itself to bestow anything on man in comparison with the law of heaven, even should it promise it. The laws of men5 may guarantee to a people protection in the honorable pursuits of this life, and the temporal happiness arising from a protection against unjust insults and injuries; and when this is said, all is said, that can be in truth, of the power, extent, and influence of the laws of men, exclusive of the law of God.6 The law of heaven is presented to man, and as such guarantees to all who obey it a reward far beyond any earthy consideration; though it does not promise that the believer in every age should be exempt from the afflictions and troubles arising from different sources in consequence of the acts of wicked men7 on earth. Still in the midst of all this there is a promise predicated upon the fact that it is the law of heaven, which transcends the law of man, as far as eternal life the temporal; and as the blessings which God is able to give, are greater than those which can be given by man. Then, certainly, if the law of man is binding upon man when acknowledged, how much more must the law of heaven be! And as much as the law of heaven is more perfect than the law of man, so much greater must be the reward if obeyed.8 The law of man promises safety in temporal life; but the law of God promises that life which is eternal,9 even an inheritance at God’s own right hand,10 secure from all the powers of the wicked one.11
We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light1 communicated from heaven2 to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life3 and lost every desire for sin;4 and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker5 and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment: he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending6 the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. For further instruction we refer you to Deut. 32, where the Lord says, that Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.7 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye, etc.; which will show the force of the last item advanced, that it is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom,8 before they are permitted to enter it: we mean the celestial glory.9 So dissimilar are the governments of men, and so divers are their laws, from the government and laws of heaven,10 that a man, for instance, hearing that there was a country on this globe called the United States of North America, could take his journey to this place without first learning the laws of governments; but the conditions of God’s kingdom are such, that all who are made partakers of that glory,11 are under the necessity of learning something respecting it previous to their entering into it.12 But the foreigner can come to this country without knowing a syllable of its laws, or even subscribing to obey them after he arrives. Why? Because the government of the United States does not require it: it only requires an obedience to its laws after the individual has arrived within its jurisdiction.
As we previously remarked, we do not attempt to place the law of man on a parallel with the law of heaven; but we will
bring forward another item, to further urge the propriety of yielding obedience to the law of heaven, after the fact is admitted, that the laws of man are binding upon man. Were a king to extend his dominion over the habitable earth, and send forth his laws which were the most perfect kind, and command his subjects one and all to yield obedience to the same, and add as a reward to those who obeyed them, that at a certain period they should be called to attend the marriage of his son,1 who in due time was to receive the kingdom, and they should be made equal with him2 in the same; and fix as a penalty for disobedience that every individual guilty of it should be cast out at the marriage feast, and have no part nor portion with his government, what rational mind could for a moment accuse the king with injustice for punishing such rebellious subjects? In the first place his laws were just, easy to be complied with, and perfect: nothing of a tyrannical nature was required of them; but the very construction of the laws was equity and beauty; and when obeyed would produce the happiest condition possible to all who adhered to them, beside the last great benefit of sitting down with a royal robe in the presence of the king at the great, grand marriage supper of his son, and be made equal with him in all affairs of the kingdom.
When these royal laws were issued, and promulgated throughout the vast dominion, every subject, when interrogated whether he believed them to be from his sovereign or not, answered, Yes; I know they are, I am acquainted with the signature, for it is as usual. Thus saith the King!3 This admitted, the subject is bound by every consideration of honor to his country, his king, and his own personal character, to observe in the strictest sense every requisition in the royal edict. Should any escape the search of the ambassadors of the king, and never hear these last laws, giving his subjects such exalted privileges, an excuse might be urged in their behalf,4 and they escape the censure of the king. But for those who had heard, who had admitted, and who had promised obedience to these just laws5 no excuse could be urged, and when brought into the presence of the king certainly, justice would require that they should suffer a penalty. Could that king be just in admitting these rebellious individuals into the full enjoyment and priv-
ileges with his son, and those who had been obedient to his commandments? Certainly not. Because they disregarded the voice of their lawful king; they had no regard for his virtuous laws, for his dignity, nor for the honor of his name; neither for the honor of their country, nor their private virtue. They regarded not his authority enough to obey him, neither did they regard the immediate advantages and blessings arising from these laws if kept, so destitute were they of virtue and goodness; and above all, they regarded so little the joy and satisfaction of a legal seat in the presence of the king’s only son, and to be made equal with him all the blessings, honors, comforts, and felicities of his kingdom, that they turned away from a participation in them, and considered that they were beneath their present notice, though they had no doubt as to the real authenticity of the royal edict.
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How could a government be conducted with harmony if its administrators were possessed with such different dispositions and different principles? Could it prosper? Could it flourish? Would harmony prevail? Would order be established,1 and could justice be executed in righteousness2 in all branches of its departments? No! In it were two classes of men as dissimilar as light and darkness, virtue and vice, justice and injustice, truth and falsehood, holiness and sin. One class were perfectly harmless and virtuous: they knew what virtue was for they had lived in the fullest enjoyment of it, and their fidelity to truth had been fairly tested by a series of years of faithful obedience to all its heavenly precepts. They knew what good order was, for they had been orderly and obedient to the laws imposed on them by their wise sovereign, and had experienced the benefits arising from a life spent in his government till he has now seen proper to make them equal with his son. Such individuals would indeed adorn any court where perfection was one of its main springs of action, and shine far more fair3 than the richest gem in the diadem4 of the prince.
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We take the sacred writings5 into our hands, and admit that they were given by direct inspiration for the good of man.6 We believe that God condescended to speak from the heavens7
and declare His will1 concerning the human family, to give them just and holy laws,2 to regulate their conduct, and guide them in a direct way,3 that in due time He might take them to Himself,4 and make them joint heirs with His Son.5 But when this fact is admitted, that the immediate will of heaven6 is contained in the Scriptures, are we not bound as rational creatures to live in accordance to all its precepts? Will the mere admission, that this is the will of heaven ever benefit us if we do not comply7 with all its teachings? Do we not offer violence to the Supreme Intelligence8 of heaven, when we admit the truth of its teachings, and do not obey them? Do we not descend below our own knowledge, and the better wisdom which heaven has endowed us with, by such a course of conduct? For these reasons, if we have direct revelations given us from heaven, surely those revelations were never given to be trifled with,9 without the trifler’s incurring displeasure10 and vengeance11 upon his own head, if there is any justice in heaven; and that there is must be admitted by every individual who admits the truth and force of God’s teachings, His blessings and cursings, as contained in the sacred volume.
Here, then, we have this part of our subject immediately before us for consideration: God has in reserve12 a time, or period appointed in His own bosom,13 when He will bring all His subjects,14 who have obeyed His voice and kept His commandments,15 into His celestial rest.16 This rest is of such perfection and glory,17 that man has need of a preparation before he can, according to the laws of that kingdom,18 enter it and enjoy its blessings. This being the fact, God has given certain laws to the human family, which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest.19 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,20 have the sure promise21 annexed of a
reward to all who obey, predicated upon the fact that they are really the promises of a Being who cannot lie,1 One who is abundantly able to fulfill every tittle of His word:2 and if man were as well prepared, or could be as well prepared, to meet God3 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.
As we previously remarked, all well established and properly organized governments have certain fixed and prominent laws for the regulation and management of the same. If man has grown to wisdom and is capable of discerning the propriety of laws to govern nations, what less can be expected from the Ruler and Upholder of the universe? Can we suppose that He has a kingdom without laws?4 Or do we believe that it is composed of an innumerable company of beings who are entirely beyond all law? Consequently have need of nothing to govern or regulate them? Would not such ideas be a reproach to our Great Parent, and at variance with His glorious intelligence? Would it not be asserting that man had found out a secret beyond Deity? That he had learned that it was good to have laws, while God after existing from eternity and having power to create man, had not found out that it was proper to have laws for His government? We admit that God is the great source and fountain from whence proceeds all good;5 that He is perfect intelligence, and that His wisdom is alone sufficient to govern and regulate the mighty creations and worlds which shine and blaze with such magnificence and splendor over our heads, as though touched with His finger and moved by His Almighty word.6 And if so, it is done and regulated by law; for without law all must certainly fall into chaos. If, then, we admit that God is the source of all wisdom and understanding,7 we must admit that by His direct inspiration He has taught man that law is necessary in order to govern and regulate His own immediate interest and welfare; for this reason, that law is beneficial to promote peace and happiness among men. And as before remarked, God is the source from whence proceeds all good; and if man is benefited by law, then certainly, law is good; and if law is good, then law, or the principle of it emanated from God; for God is the source of all good;8
consequently, then, he was the first Author of law, or the principle of it, to mankind.
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Think for a moment, of the greatness of the Being who created the Universe; and ask, could He be so inconsistent with His own character, as to leave man without a law1 or rule by which to regulate his conduct, after placing him here, where, according to the formation of his nature he must in a short period sink into the dust?2 Is there nothing further; is there no existence beyond this veil of death which is so suddenly to be cast over all of us? If there is, why not that Being who had power to place us here, inform us something of the hereafter? If we had power to place ourselves in this present existence, why not have power to know what shall follow when that dark veil3 is cast over our bodies? If in this life we receive our all; if when we crumble back to dust4 we are no more, from what source did we emanate, and what was the purpose of our existence? If this life were all, we should be led to query, whether or not there was really any substance in existence, and we might with propriety say, “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die!”5 But if this life is all, then why this constant toiling, why this continual warfare, and why this unceasing trouble? But this life is not all; the voice of reason, the language of inspiration, and the Spirit of the living God,6 our Creator, teaches us, as we hold the record of truth in our hands, that this is not the case, that this is not so; for, the heavens declare the glory of a God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork;7 and a moment’s reflection is sufficient to teach every man of common intelligence, that all these are not the mere productions of chance, nor could they be supported by any power less than an Almighty hand; and He that can mark the power of Omnipotence, inscribed upon the heavens, can also see God’s own handwriting in the sacred volume: and he who reads it oftenest will like it best, and he who is acquainted with it, will know the hand wherever he can see it; and when once discovered, it will not only receive an acknowledgment, but an obedience to all its heavenly precepts. For a moment reflect: what could have been the purpose of our Father in giving
to us a law? Was it that it might be obeyed, or disobeyed? And think further, too, not only of the propriety, but of the importance of attending to His laws in every particular.1 If, then, there is an importance in this respect, is there not a responsibility of great weight resting upon those who are called to declare these truths to men?2 Were we capable of laying any thing before you as a just comparison, we would cheerfully do it; but in this our ability fails, and we are inclined to think that man is unable, without assistance beyond what has been given to those before, of expressing in words the greatness of this important subject. We can only say, that if an anticipation of the joys of the celestial glory, as witnessed to the hearts of the humble3 is not sufficient, we will leave to yourselves the result of your own diligence; for God ere long, will call all His servants before Him, and there from His own hand they will receive a just recompense and a righteous reward4 for all their labors.
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It is reasonable to suppose that man departed from the first teachings, or instructions which he received from heaven in the first age, and refused by his disobedience to be governed by them. Consequently, he formed such laws as best suited his own mind, or as he supposed, were best adapted to his situation. But that God has influenced man more or less since that time in the formation of law for His benefit we have no hesitancy in believing; for, as before remarked, being the source of all good, every just and equitable law was in a greater or less degree influenced by Him. And though man in his own supposed wisdom would not admit the influence of a power superior to his own, yet for wise and great purposes, for the good and happiness of His creatures, God has instructed man to form wise and wholesome laws,5 since he had departed from Him and refused to be governed by those laws which God had given by His own voice6 from on high7 in the beginning. But notwithstanding the transgression, by which man had cut himself off from an immediate intercourse with his Maker without a Mediator, it appears that the great and glorious plan of His redemption was previously provided; the sacrifice prepared;
the atonement wrought out in the mind and purpose of God,1 even in the person of the Son, through whom man was now to look for acceptance and through whose merits he was now taught that he alone could find redemption, since the word had been pronounced, Unto dust thou shalt return.2
But that man was not able himself to erect a system, or plan with power sufficient to free him from a destruction which awaited him is evident from the fact that God, as before remarked, prepared a sacrifice in the gift of His own Son3 who should be sent in due time,4 to prepare a way, or open a door5 through which man might enter into the Lord’s presence,6 whence he had been cast out for disobedience.7 From time to time these glad tidings8 were sounded in the ears of men in different ages of the world down to the time of Messiah’s coming.9 By faith in this atonement or plan of redemption, Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was accepted,10 which was the firstlings of the flock.11 Cain offered of the fruit of the ground,12 and was not accepted, because he could not do it in faith,13 he could have no faith, or could not exercise faith contrary to the plan of heaven. It must be shedding the blood of the Only Begotten to atone for man;14 for this was the plan of redemption;15 and without the shedding of blood was no remission;16 and as the sacrifice was instituted for a type,17 by which man was to discern the great Sacrifice18 which God had prepared; to offer a sacrifice contrary to that, no faith could be exercised, because redemption was not purchased in that way, nor the power of atonement19 instituted after that order; consequently Cain could have no faith; and whatsoever is not of faith, is sin.20 But Abel offered an acceptable sacrifice,21 by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God Himself testifying of his gifts.22 Certainly, the shedding of the blood of a beast could be beneficial to no man, except it was done in imitation, or as a type,23 or explanation of what was to be offered through the gift of God Himself;24 and this performance done with an eye looking forward in faith25 on the power of that great Sacrifice for a remission of sins.26 But however various may have been, and may be at the present time, the opinions of men respecting the conduct of Abel, and the knowledge which he had on the
subject of atonement, it is evident in our minds, that he was instructed more fully in the plan than what the Bible speaks of, for how could he offer a sacrifice in faith,1 looking to God for a remission of his sins2 in the power of the great atonement, without having been previously instructed in that plan? And further, if he was accepted of God,3 what were the ordinances performed further than the offering of the firstlings of the flock?4
It is said by Paul in his letter to the Hebrew brethren, that Abel obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.5 To whom did God testify of the gifts of Abel, was it to Paul? We have very little on this important subject in the forepart of the Bible. But it is said that Abel himself obtained witness that he was righteous. Then certainly God spoke to him: indeed, it is said that God talked with him;6 and if He did, would He not, seeing that Able was righteous deliver to him the whole plan of the Gospel? And is not the Gospel the news of the redemption?7 How could Abel offer a sacrifice and look forward with faith on the Son of God for a remission of his sins, and not understand the Gospel? The mere shedding of the blood of beasts or offering anything else in sacrifice, could not procure a remission of sins, except it were performed in faith of something to come; if it could, Cain’s offering must have been as good as Abel’s. And if Abel was taught of the coming of the Son of God, was he not taught also of His ordinances? We all admit that the Gospel has ordinances, and if so, had it not always ordinances, and were not its ordinances always the same?
Perhaps our friends will say that the Gospel and its ordinances were not known till the days of John,8 the son of Zacharias, in the days of Herod, the king of Judea.9 But we will here look at this point: For our own part we cannot believe that the ancients in all ages were so ignorant of the system of heaven as many suppose, since all that were ever saved, were saved through the power of this great plan of redemption,10 as much before the coming of Christ as since; if not, God has had
different plans in operation (if we may so express it), to bring men back to dwell with Himself;1 and this we cannot believe, since there has been no change in the constitution of man since he fell; and the ordinance or institution of offering blood in sacrifice, was only designed to be performed till Christ was offered up and shed His blood2—as said before—that man might look forward in faith3 to that time. It will be noticed that, according to Paul, (see Gal. 3:8)4 the Gospel was preached to Abraham. We would like to be informed in what name the Gospel was then preached,5 whether it was in the name of Christ or some other name.6 If in any other name, was it the Gospel?7 And if it was the Gospel, and that preached in the name of Christ, had it any ordinances? If not, was it the Gospel? And if it has ordinances what were they? Our friends may say, perhaps, that there were never any ordinances except those of offering sacrifices before the coming of Christ, and that it could not be possible before the Gospel to have been administered while the law of sacrifices of blood was in force. But we will recollect that Abraham offered sacrifice,8 and notwithstanding this, had the Gospel preached to him.9 That the offering of sacrifice was only to point the mind forward to Christ,10 we infer from these remarkable words of Jesus to the Jews: “Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).11 So, then, because the ancients offered sacrifice it did not hinder their hearing the Gospel; but served, as we said before, to open their eyes, and enable them to look forward to the time of the coming of the Savior,12 and rejoice in His redemption.13 We find also, that when the Israelites came out of Egypt they had the Gospel preached to them,14 according to Paul in his letter to the Hebrews, which says: “For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (see Heb. 4:2).15 It is said again, in Gal. 3:19,16 that the law (of Moses, or the Levitical law) was “added” because of transgression. What, we ask, was this law added to, if it was not added to the Gospel? It must be plain that it was added to the Gospel, since we learn that they had the Gospel preached to them. From these few facts, we conclude that whenever the Lord revealed Himself17 to men in ancient days, and commanded them to offer sacrifice to Him, that it was done that they might look forward in faith18 to the
time of His coming, and rely upon the power of that atonement1 for a remission of their sins.2 And this they have done, thousands who have gone before us, whose garments are spotless,3 and who are, like Job, waiting with an assurance like his, that they will see Him in the latter day upon the earth, even in their flesh.4
We may conclude, that though there were different dispensations, yet all things which God communicated to His people were calculated to draw their minds to the great object, and to teach them to rely upon God5 alone as the author of their salvation,6 as contained in His law.
From what we can draw from the Scriptures relative to the teaching of heaven, we are induced to think that much instruction has been given to man since the beginning which we do not possess now. This may not agree with the opinions of some of our friends who are bold to say that we have everything written in the Bible which God ever spoke to man since the world began,7 and that if He had ever said anything more we should certainly have received it. But we ask, does it remain for a people who never had faith enough to call down one scrap of revelation from heaven, and for all they have now are indebted to the faith of another people who lived hundreds and thousands of years before them, does it remain for them to say how much God has spoken and how much He has not spoken? We have what we have, and the Bible contains what it does contain: but to say that God never said anything more to man than is there recorded, would be saying at once that we have at last received a revelation: for it must require one to advance thus far, because it is nowhere said in that volume by the mouth of God,8 that He would not, after giving what is there contained, speak again; and if any man has found out for a fact that the Bible contains all that God ever revealed to man he has ascertained it by an immediate revelation, other than has been previously written by the prophets and apostles. But through the kind providence of our Father a portion of His word9 which he delivered to His ancient saints, has fallen into our hands, is presented to us with a promise of a reward if obeyed, and with a penalty if disobeyed. That all are deeply
interested in these laws or teachings, must be admitted by all who acknowledge their divine authenticity.
It may be proper for us to notice in this place a few of the many blessings held out in this law of heaven1 as a reward to those who obey its teachings. God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and this He has given an assurance2 of in that He raised up His Son Jesus Christ from the dead3—the point on which the hope of all who believe the inspired record is found for their future happiness and enjoyment; because, “If Christ be not raised,” said Paul to the Corinthians, “your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished” (see 1 Cor. 15).4 If the resurrection from the dead be not an important point, or item in our faith, we must confess that we know nothing about it; for if there be no resurrection from the dead, then Christ has not risen;5 and if Christ has not risen He was not the Son of God; and if He was not the Son of God, there is not nor cannot be a Son of God, if the present book called the Scriptures is true; because the time has gone by when, according to that book, He was to make His appearance. On this subject, however, we are reminded of the words of Peter to the Jewish Sanhedrin, when speaking of Christ, he says that God raised Him from the dead, and we (the apostles) are His witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Ghost, whom God had given to them that obey Him (see Acts 5).6 So that after the testimony of the Scriptures on this point, the assurance is given by the Holy Ghost, bearing witness to those who obey Him, that Christ Himself has assuredly risen from the dead; and if He has risen from the dead, He will by His power, bring all men to stand before Him;7 for if He has risen from the dead the bands of the temporal death are broken8 that the grave has no victory.9 If then, the grave has no victory, those who keep the sayings of Jesus10 and obey His teachings have not only a promise of a resurrection from the dead, but an assurance of being admitted into His glorious kingdom; for, He Himself says, “Where I am, there shall also my servant be” (see John 12).11
In the 22nd chapter of Matthew’s account of the Messiah, we find the kingdom of heaven likened unto a king who made a marriage for his son.1 That this son was the Messiah will not be disputed, since it was the kingdom of heaven that was represented in the parable;2 and that the Saints, or those who are found faithful3 to the Lord, are the individuals who will be found worthy to inherit a seat at the marriage supper,4 is evident from the sayings of John in the Revelation where he represents the sound which he heard in heaven to be like a great multitude, or like the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: For the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints (Rev. 19).5
That those who keep the commandments of the Lord6 and walk in His statutes7 to the end,8 are the only individuals permitted to sit at this glorious feast, is evident from the following items in Paul’s last letter to Timothy, which was written just previous to his death,—he says: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”9 No one who believes the account, will doubt for a moment this assertion of Paul which was made, as he knew, just before he was to take his leave of this world. Though he once, according to his own word, persecuted the Church of God and wasted it,10 yet after embracing the faith, his labors were unceasing to spread the glorious news: and like a faithful soldier,11 when called to give his life in the cause which he had espoused, he laid it down, as he says, with an assurance of an eternal crown.12 Follow the labors of this Apostle from the time of his conversion to the time of his death, and you will have a fair sample of industry and patience in promulgating the Gospel of Christ.13 Derided, whipped,14 and stoned,15 the moment he escaped
the hands of his persecutors he as zealously as ever proclaimed the doctrine of the Savior.1 And all may know that he did not embrace the faith for honor in this life, nor for the gain of earthly goods. What, then, could have induced him to undergo all this toil? It was, as he said, that he might obtain the crown of righteousness2 from the hand of God.3 No one, we presume, will doubt the faithfulness of Paul to the end. None will say that he did not keep the faith, that he did not fight the good fight,4 that he did not preach and persuade5 to the last. And what was he to receive? A crown of righteousness. And what shall others receive who do not labor faithfully, and continue to the end? We leave such to search out their own promises if any they have; and if they have any they are welcome to them, on our part, for the Lord says that every man is to receive according to his works.6 Reflect for a moment, brethren, and enquire, whether you would consider yourselves worthy a seat at the marriage feast with Paul and others like him, if you had been unfaithful? Had you not fought the good fight, and kept the faith,7 could you expect to receive? Have you a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness from the hand of the Lord,8 with the Church of the Firstborn?9 Here then, we understand, that Paul rested his hope10 in Christ,11 because he had kept the faith, and loved His appearing and from His hand he had a promise of receiving a crown of righteousness.12
If the Saints are not to reign,13 for what purpose are they crowned?14 In an exhortation of the Lord to a certain Church in Asia, which was built up in the days of the Apostles, unto whom He communicated His word on that occasion by His servant John, He says, “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”15 And again, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His Throne” (see Rev. 3).16 And again, it is written, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).17 How is it that these old Apostles
should say so much on the subject of the coming of Christ?1 He certainly had once come; but Paul says, To all who love His appearing, shall be given the crown:2 and John says, When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.3 Can we mistake such language as this? Do we not offer violence to our own good judgment when we deny the second coming of the Messiah? When has He partaken of the fruit of the vine new with His ancient Apostles in His Father’s kingdom, as He promised He would just before he was crucified?4 In Paul’s epistle to the Philippians (3:20, 21) he says: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”5 We find another promise to individuals living in the Church at Sardis who had not defiled their garments: “And they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels.”6 John represents the sound which he heard from heaven, as giving thanks and glory to God, saying that the Lamb was worthy to take the book and to open its seals; because he was slain, and had made them kings and priests unto God: and they should reign on the earth (see Rev. 5).7 In the 20th chapter we find a length of time specified, during which Satan is to be confined in his own place, and the Saints reign in peace,8 all these promises and blessings we find contained in the law of the Lord,9 which the righteous are to enjoy: and we might enumerate many more places where the same or similar promises are made to the faithful,10 but we do not deem it of importance to rehearse them here, as this epistle is now lengthy; and our brethren, no doubt, are familiar with them all.
Most assuredly it is, however, that the ancients, though persecuted and afflicted by men,11 obtained from God promises12 of such weight and glory, that our hearts are often filled with gratitude that we are even permitted to look upon them while
we contemplate that there is no respect of persons1 in His sight, and that in every nation, he that feareth God and worketh righteousness, is acceptable with Him.2 But from the few items previously quoted we can draw the conclusion that there is to be a day when all will be judged of their works,3 and rewarded according to the same;4 that those who have kept the faith will be crowned with a crown of righteousness;5 be clothed in white raiment;6 be admitted to the marriage feast;7 be free from every affliction,8 and reign with Christ on the earth,9 where, according to the ancient promise, they will partake of the fruit of the vine new in the glorious kingdom with Him;10 at least we find that such promises were made to the ancient Saints. And though we cannot claim these promises which were made to the ancients for they are not our property, merely because they were made to the ancient Saints, yet if we are the children of the Most High,11 and are called with the same calling12 with which they were called, and embrace the same covenant13 that they embraced, and are faithful to the testimony of our Lord14 as they were, we can approach the Father in the name of Christ as they approached Him,15 and for ourselves obtain the same promises.16 These promises, when obtained, if ever by us, will not be because Peter, John, and the other Apostles, with the churches at Sardis, Pergamos, Philadelphia,17 and elsewhere, walked in the fear of God,18 and had power and faith to prevail19 and obtain them; but it will be because we, ourselves, have faith and approach God in the name of His Son Jesus Christ,20 even as they did; and when these promises are obtained, they will be promises directly to us, or they will do us no good. They will be communicated for our benefit, being our own property (through the gift of God),21 earned by our own diligence in keeping His commandments22 and walking uprightly before Him.23 If not, to what end serves the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ,24 and why was it ever communicated to us?25
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The Messiah’s kingdom on earth is of that kind of government, that there has always been numerous apostates, for the reason that it admits of no sins unrepented of without
excluding the individual from its fellowship. Our Lord said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.”1 And again, many are called, but few are chosen.2 Paul said to the elders of the Church at Ephesus, after he had labored three years with them, that he knew that some of their own number would turn away from the faith, and seek to lead away disciples after them.3 None, we presume, in this generation will pretend that he has the experience of Paul in building up the Church of Christ4 and yet, after his departure from the Church at Ephesus, many, even of the elders turned away from the truth;5 and what is almost always the case, sought to lead away disciples after them. Strange as it may appear at first thought, yet it is no less strange than true, that notwithstanding all the professed determination to live godly,6 apostates after turning from the faith of Christ,7 unless they have speedily repented,8 have sooner or later fallen into the snares of the wicked one,9 and have been left destitute10 of the Spirit of God, to manifest their wickedness in the eyes of multitudes.11 From apostates the faithful have received the severest persecutions. Judas was rebuked12 and immediately betrayed his Lord into the hands of His enemies,13 because Satan entered into him.14 There is a superior intelligence bestowed upon such as obey the Gospel with full purpose of heart,15 which, if sinned against, the apostate is left naked and destitute of the Spirit of God, and he is, in truth, nigh unto cursing, and his end is to be burned.16 When once that light which was in them is taken from them,17 they become as much darkened as they were previously enlightened,18 and then, no marvel,19 if all their power should be enlisted against the truth, and they, Judas like, seek the destruction of those who were their greatest benefactors. What nearer friend on earth, or in heaven, had Judas than the Savior? And his first object was to destroy Him. Who, among all the Saints in these last days can consider himself as good as our Lord? Who is as perfect? Who is as pure? Who is as holy as He was? Are they to be found? He never transgressed or broke a commandment or law of heaven—no deceit was in His mouth,20 neither was guile found in His heart.21 And yet one that ate with Him,22 who had often drunk of the same cup, was the first to lift up his heel23 against Him. Where is one like Christ? He cannot be found on earth. Then why should His followers complain, if from
those whom they once called brethren, and considered as standing in the nearest relation in the everlasting covenant1 they should receive persecution? From what source emanated the principle which has ever been manifest by apostates from the true Church to persecute with double diligence, and seek with double perseverance, to destroy those whom they once professed to love, with whom they once communed, and with whom they once covenanted2 to strive with every power in righteousness to obtain the rest of God?3 Perhaps our brethren will say the same that caused Satan to seek to overthrow the kingdom of God,4 because he himself was evil, and God’s kingdom is holy.5
* * *
The great plan of salvation6 is a theme which ought to occupy our strict attention, and be regarded as one of heaven’s best gifts7 to mankind. No consideration whatever ought to deter us from showing ourselves approved in the sight of God,8 according to His divine requirement. Men not unfrequently forget that they are dependent upon heaven for every blessing9 which they are permitted to enjoy, and that for every opportunity granted them they are to give an account.10 You know, brethren, that when the Master in the Savior’s parable of the stewards11 called his servants before him he gave them several talents to improve on while he should tarry abroad for a little season,12 and when he returned he called for an accounting. So it is now. Our Master is absent only for a little season, and at the end of it He will call each to render an account; and where the five talents were bestowed, ten will be required; and he that has made no improvement will be cast out as an unprofitable servant, while the faithful will enjoy everlasting honors. Therefore we earnestly implore the grace of our Father13 to rest upon you, through Jesus Christ His Son, that you may not faint14 in the hour of temptation,15 nor be overcome in the time of persecution. (January 22, 1834) DHC 2:4-24.
The Seventies are to constitute traveling quorums, to go into all the earth, whithersoever the Twelve Apostles shall call them.16 (Feb. 8, 1834.) DHC 2:202.
At a council of the High Priests and Elders, (Orson Hyde, clerk), at my house in Kirtland, on the evening of the 12th of February (1834), I remarked that I should endeavor to set before the council the dignity of the office1 which had been conferred on me2 by the ministering of the angel of God,3 by His own voice,4 and by the voice of this Church;5 that I had never set before any council in all the order in which it ought to be conducted, which, perhaps, has deprived the councils of some or many blessings.
And I continued and said, no man is capable of judging a matter, in council,6 unless his own heart is pure;7 and that we frequently are so filled with prejudice, or have a beam in our own eye,8 that we are not capable of passing right decisions.
But to return to the subject of order; in ancient days councils were conducted with such strict propriety, that no one was allowed to whisper, be weary, leave the room, or get uneasy in the least, until the voice of the Lord,9 by revelation, or the voice of the council by the Spirit,10 was obtained, which has not been observed in this Church to the present time. It was understood in ancient days, that if one man could stay in council, another could; and if the president could spend his time, the members could also; but in our councils, generally, one will be uneasy, another asleep; one praying, another not; one’s mind on the business of the council, and another thinking on something else.
Our acts are recorded, and at a future day they will be laid before us, and if we should fail to judge right and injure our fellow-beings, they may there, perhaps, condemn us;11 there they are of great consequence, and to me the consequence appears to be of force, beyond anything which I am able to express. Ask yourselves, brethren, how much you have exercised yourselves in prayer12 since you heard of this council; and if you are now prepared to sit in council upon the soul of your brother.
I then gave a relation of my situation at the time I obtained the record [Book of Mormon],13 the persecutions I met with,14 and prophesied that I would stand and shine like the sun in the
firmament,1 when my enemies and the gainsayers of my testimony2 shall be put down and cut off,3 and their names blotted out4 from among men.—DHC 2:25-26.
On the evening of the 29th of November, I united in prayer5 with Brother Oliver for the continuance of blessings.6 After giving thanks for the relief which the Lord had lately sent us by opening the hearts7 of the brethren from the east, to loan us $430; after commencing and rejoicing before the Lord8 on this occasion, we agreed to enter into the following covenant with the Lord,9 viz:
That if the Lord will prosper us10 in our business and open the way before us that we may obtain means to pay our debts,11 that we be not troubled nor brought into disrepute before the world, nor His people;12 after that, of all that He shall give unto us, we will give a tenth13 to be bestowed upon the poor14 in His Church, or as He shall command; and that we will be faithful over that which he has entrusted15 to our care, that we may obtain much; and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant;16 and that our children, and our children’s children, may know of the same, we have subscribed our names with our own hands. (March 29, 1834.) DHC 2:174-175.
(Signed) JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
At a conference of the Elders of the Church held at the home of Jared Carter, April 21, 1834, the Prophet read the second chapter of Joel17 and then made the following remarks:
It is very difficult for us to communicate to the churches all that God has revealed to us, in consequence of tradition;18 for we are differently situated from any other people that ever existed upon this earth; consequently those former revelations cannot be suited to our conditions; they were given to other people, who were before us; but in the last days, God was to call a remnant, in which was to be deliverance, as well as in Jerusalem and Zion.19 Now if God should give no more revela-
tions, where will we find Zion and this remnant?1 The time is near when desolation is to cover the earth,2 and then God will have a place of deliverance in his remnant, and in Zion,3 * * *
Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none; for without Zion, and a place of deliverance, we must fall; because the time is near when the sun will be darkened,4 and the moon turn to blood,5 and the stars fall from the heaven,6 and the earth reel to and fro.7 Then, if this is the case, and if we are not sanctified and gathered to the places God has appointed,8 with all our former professions and our great love for the Bible, we must fall; we cannot stand;9 we cannot be saved; for God will gather out his Saints from the Gentiles,10 and then comes desolation and destruction,11 and none can escape except the pure in heart12 who are gathered.—DHC 2:52.
The following incidents occurred while Zion’s Camp was on the march from Kirtland to Missouri.
In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, “Let them alone—don’t hurt them! How will the serpent13 ever lose its venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless14 before the brute creation, and when men lose their viscious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.”15 The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger. (May 26, 1834.) DHC 2:71.
Martin Harris having boasted to the brethren that he could handle snakes16 with perfect safety, while fooling with a black snake with his bare feet, he received a bite on his left
foot. The fact was communicated to me, and I took occasion to reprove him, and exhort the brethren never to trifle1 with the promises of God.2 I told them it was presumption for any one to provoke a serpent to bite him, but if a man of God3 was accidentally bitten by a poisonous serpent,4 he might have faith, or his brethren might have faith for him, so that the Lord would hear his prayer5 and he might be healed;6 but when a man designedly provokes a serpent7 to bite him, the principle is the same as when a man drinks deadly poison8 knowing it to be such. In that case no man has any claim9 on the promises of God to be healed. (June 16, 1834.) DHC 2:95-96.
Kirtland, February 27, 1835.
This evening, nine of the Twelve,10 viz., Lyman Johnson, Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Hyde, David W. Patten, Luke Johnson, William E. M’Lellin, John F. Boynton, and William Smith, assembled at the house of President Joseph Smith, Jun., who was present, with Frederick G. Williams, Sidney Rigdon, Bishop Whitney, and three Elders. Parley P. Pratt had gone to New Portage, and Orson Pratt and Thomas B. Marsh had not yet arrived to receive their ordination.
After prayer by President Joseph Smith, Jun., he said, if we heard patiently, he could lay before the council an item which would be of importance. He had for himself, learned a fact by experience, which, on recollection, always gave him deep sorrow. It is a fact, if I now had in my possession, every decision which had been had upon important items of doctrine and duties since the commencement of this work, I would not part with them for any sum of money; but we have neglected to take minutes of such things, thinking, perhaps, that they would never benefit us afterwards; which, if we had them now, would decide almost every point of doctrine11 which might be agitated. But this has been neglected, and now we cannot bear record to the Church and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations12 which have been made to us with that degree of power and authority we otherwise could, if we now had these things to publish abroad.
Since the Twelve are now chosen, I wish to tell them a course which they may pursue, and be benefited thereafter, in a point of light of which they are not now aware. If they will, every time they assemble, appoint a person to preside over them during the meeting, and one or more to keep a record1 of their proceedings, and on the decision of every question or item, be it what it may, let such decision be written, and such decision will forever remain upon record, and appear an item of covenant or doctrine. An item thus decided may appear, at the time, of little or no worth, but should it be published, and one of you lay hands on it after, you will find it of infinite worth, not only to your brethren, but it will be a feast to your own souls.2
Here is another important item. If you assemble from time to time, and proceed to discuss important questions, and pass decisions upon the same, and fail to note them down, by and by you will be driven to straits from which you will not be able to extricate yourselves, because you may be in a situation not to bring your faith to bear with sufficient perfection or power to obtain the desired information; or, perhaps, for neglecting to write these things when God had revealed them, not esteeming them of sufficient worth,3 the Spirit may withdraw,4 and God may be angry;5 and there is, or was, a vast knowledge, of infinite importance, which is now lost. What was the cause of this? It came in consequence of slothfulness,6 or a neglect to appoint a man to occupy a few moments in writing all these decisions.
Here let me prophesy. The time will come, when, if you neglect to do this thing, you will fall by the hands of unrighteous men.7 Were you to be brought before the authorities, and be accused of any crime or misdemeanor, and be as innocent as the angels of God,8 unless you can prove yourselves to have been somewhere else, your enemies will prevail9 against you; but if you can bring twelve men to testify that you were in a certain place, at that time, you will escape their hands.10 Now, if you will be careful to keep minutes11 of these things, as I have said, it will be one of the most important records ever seen: for all such decisions will ever after remain as items of
doctrine and covenants.1 (From minutes of Instruction to the Council of the Twelve, Feb. 27, 1835. DHC 2:198-199.)
President Smith proposed the following question: What importance is there attached to the calling of the Twelve Apostles, different from the other callings or officers of the Church?
After the question was discussed by Councilors Patten, Young, Smith, and M’Lellin, President Joseph Smith, Jun., gave the following decision:
They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of the Traveling High Council,2 who are to preside over the churches of the Saints, among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established; and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles,3 until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews.4 They are to hold the keys5 of this ministry, to unlock the door of the Kingdom of heaven unto all nations,6 and to preach the Gospel to every creature.7 This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship.8
OLIVER COWDERY, Clerk.(Feb. 27, 1835. DHC 2:200.)
President Joseph Smith stated that the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion, or any of the stakes, and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof, where there is a standing high council;9 but it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all matters relative to the different branches of the Church. When the Twelve are together, or a quorum10 of them, in any church, they will have authority to act independently, and make decisions, and those decisions will be valid. But where there is not a quorum, they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.11 No standing High Council has authority to go into the churches abroad, and regulate the matters thereof, for this belongs to the Twelve. No standing High Council will ever be established only in Zion, or one of her stakes. When the Twelve pass a decision, it is in the name of the Church, therefore it is valid.
No official member of the Church has authority to go into any branch1 thereof, and ordain any minister for that church, unless it is by the voice of that branch. No Elder has authority to go into any branch of the Church, and appoint meetings, or attempt to regulate the affairs of the Church, without the advice and consent of the presiding Elder2 of that branch.
If the first Seventy3 are all employed, and there is a call for more laborers, it will be the duty of the seven presidents of the first Seventy to call and ordain other Seventy4 and send them forth to labor in the vineyard, until, if needs be, they set apart seven times seventy, and even until there are one hundred and forty-four thousand5 thus set apart for the ministry.
The Seventy are not to attend the conferences of the Twelve, unless they are called upon or requested so to do by the Twelve. The Twelve and the Seventy have particularly to depend upon their ministry for their support,6 and that of their families; and they have a right, by virtue of their offices, to call upon the churches to assist them.
* * *
The circumstances of the presidents of the Seventy were severally considered, relative to their traveling7 in the vineyard: and it was unanimously agreed that they should hold themselves in readiness to go, at the call of the Twelve8 when the Lord opens the way. Twenty-seven of the Seventy were also considered, and it was decided they should hold themselves in readiness to travel in the ministry, at the call of the president of the Seventy, as the Lord opens the way.
* * *
Voted, that all the Elders of the Church are bound to travel in the world to preach the Gospel,9 with all their might, mind, and strength,10 when their circumstances will admit of it; and that the door is now opened.
Voted, that Elders Brigham Young, John P. Greene, and Amos Orton be appointed to go and preach the Gospel to the remnants of Joseph,11 the door to be opened by Elder Brigham Young; and this will open the door to the whole house of Joseph.12 Voted, that when another Seventy is required, the presidency of the first Seventy shall choose,13 ordain, and set
them apart from among the most experienced of the Elders of the Church.—From the Minutes of a General Priesthood Meeting held May 2, 1835.—DHC 2:220-222.
Dear Brethren:—It is a duty which every Saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them.1 To be justified before God2 we must love one another:3 we must overcome evil;4 we must visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world: for such virtues flow from the great fountain of pure religion,5 strengthening our faith by adding every good quality6 that adorns the children of the blessed Jesus,7 we can pray in the season of prayer; we can love our neighbor as ourselves,8 and be faithful in tribulation, knowing that the reward of such is greater in the kingdom of heaven.9 What a consolation!10 What a joy!11 Let me live the life of the righteous, and let my reward be like his!
According to the order of the kingdom12 begun in the last days, to prepare men for the rest of the Lord,13 the Elders in Zion, or in her immediate region, have no authority or right to meddle with her spiritual affairs, to regulate her concerns, or hold councils for the expulsion of members in her unorganized condition. The High Council has been expressly organized to administer in all her spiritual affairs; and the Bishop and his council, are set over her temporal matters:14 so that the Elders’ acts are null and void. Now the Lord wants the tares and wheat to grow together:15 for Zion must be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.16 Every Elder that can, after providing for his family17 (if he has any) and paying his debts, must go forth and clear his skirts from the blood of this generation.18 While they are in that region instead of trying members for transgressions, or offenses, let every one labor to prepare himself for the vineyard,19 sparing a little time to comfort the mourners;20 to bind up the broken-hearted;21 to reclaim the backslider;22 to bring back the wanderer;23 to re-invite
into the kingdom such as have been cut off, by encouraging them to lay to while the day lasts,1 and to work righteousness,2 and, with one heart and one mind,3 prepare to help redeem Zion,4 that goodly land5 of promise,6 where the willing and the obedient7 shall be blessed. Souls are as precious8 in the sight of God9 as they ever were; and the Elders were never called to drive any down to hell, but to persuade and invite all men10 everywhere to repent,11 that they may become the heirs of salvation.12 It is the acceptable year of the Lord: liberate the captives13 that they may sing hosanna.14 The Priests, too, should not be idle: their duties are plain, and unless they do them diligently, they cannot expect to be approved. Righteousness must be the aim of the Saints in all things, and when the covenants are published, they will learn that great things must be expected from them. Do good15 and work righteousness16 with an eye single to the glory of God,17 and you shall reap your reward18 when the Lord recompenses every one according to his work.19 The Teachers and Deacons are the standing ministers of the Church,20 and in the absence of other officers, great things and holy walk21 are required of them. They must strengthen the members’ faith;22 persuade such as are out of the way23 to repent, and turn to God and live;24 meekly persuade25 and urge every one to forgive one another all their trespasses,26 offenses and sins, that they may work out their own salvation with fear and trembling.27
Brethren, bear and forbear one with another,28 for so the Lord does with us. Pray for your enemies in the Church and curse not your foes29 without: for vengeance is mine, saith the Lord, and I will repay.30 To every ordained member, and to all, we say, be merciful31 and you shall find mercy.32 Seek to help save souls,33 not to destroy them:34 for verily you know, that “there is more joy in heaven, over one sinner that repents, than there is over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.”35 Strive not36 about the mysteries of the kingdom;37 cast not your pearls before swine,38 give not the bread of the children to dogs,39 lest you and the children should suffer, and you thereby offend your righteous Judge.40 Your brethren who leave their families, with whom they have enjoyed an earthly measure of peace and joy, to carry glad tidings around the world, expect
great things of you, while you are privileged to enjoy the blessing of the Saints’ society. They pray our heavenly Father that you may be very prayerful, very humble, and very charitable; working diligently, spiritually and temporally for the redemption of Zion,1 that the pure in heart may return with songs of everlasting joy2 to build up her waste places,3 and meet the Lord when He comes in His glory.4 Brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ, we entreat you to live worthy of the blessings that shall follow, after much tribulation,5 to satiate the souls6 of them that hold out faithful to the end7—M&A 1:137-138.
The substance of the foregoing article from the Messenger and Advocate is also contained, according to John Whitmer’s history (manuscript, page 52) in a letter to Hezekiah Peck, signed by Joseph Smith, Jun., Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, W. W. Phelps and John Whitmer; the opening paragraph of which is as follows:
“The Presidency of Kirtland and Zion say that the Lord has manifested by revelation of His Spirit, that the High Priests, Teachers, Priests, and Deacons, or in other words, all the officers in the land of Clay County, Missouri, belonging to the Church, are more or less in transgression, because they have not enjoyed the Spirit of God sufficiently to be able to comprehend their duties respecting themselves and the welfare of Zion;8 thereby having been left to act in a manner that is detrimental to the interest, and also a hindrance to the redemption of Zion.9 Now if they will be wise, they will humble themselves10 in a peculiar manner that God may open the eyes of their understanding.11 It will be clearly manifested what the design and purposes of the Almighty12 are with regard to them, and the children of Zion,13 that they should let the High Council, which is appointed of God and ordained for that purpose, make and regulate all the affairs of Zion,14 and that it is the will of God that her children should stand still and see the salvation of redemption.”15 Then follows the substance of the Messenger and Advocate article. This letter has the following postscript written personally by the Prophet, to Brother Peck, and is a gem which manifests the profound sympathy of the Prophet for the faithful in Israel:16
P.S.— Brother Hezekiah Peck: We remember your family with all the first families of the Church who first embraced the truth. We remember your losses and sorrows; our first ties are not broken; we participate with you in the evil as well as the good, in the sorrows as well as the joys; our union, we trust, is stronger than death,1 and shall never be severed. Remember us unto all who believe in the fulness of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.2 We hereby authorize you, Hezekiah Peck, our beloved brother, to read this epistle and communicate it unto all the brotherhood in that region of country.
Dictated by me, your unworthy brother, and fellow laborer3 in the testimony of the Book of Mormon, Signed by my own hand in the token of the everlasting covenant.4 JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—M&A, June, 1835, also DHC 2:229-231.
After so long a time, and after so many things have been said, I feel it my duty to drop a few hints, that perhaps the Elders traveling through the world, to warn the inhabitants of the earth to flee the wrath to come,5 and save themselves from this untoward generation6—may be aided in a measure, in doctrine, and in the way of their duty. I have been laboring in this cause for eight years, during which time I have traveled much, and have had much experience. I removed from Seneca County, New York, to Geauga County, Ohio, in February, 1831.
I received, by a heavenly vision,7 a commandment in June following, to take my journey to the western boundaries of the State of Missouri,8 and there designate the very spot9 which was to be the central place10 for the commencement of the gathering together of those who embrace the fullness of the everlasting Gospel.11 Accordingly I undertook the journey,12 with certain ones of my brethren, and after a long and tedious journey, suffering many privations13 and hardships, arrived in Jackson County, Missouri, and after viewing the country, seeking diligently14 at the hand of God,15 He manifested Himself16 unto us, and designated, to me and others, the very spot17 upon which
he designed to commence the work1 of the gathering, and the upbuilding of an “holy city,”2 which should be called Zion—Zion, because it is a place of righteousness,3 and all who build thereon are to worship the true and living God,4 and all believe in one doctrine,5 even the doctrine of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.6 “Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion” (Isaiah 52:8).7
* * *
After having ascertained the very spot,8 and having the happiness of seeing quite a number of the families of my brethren comfortably situated upon the land, I took leave of them and journeyed back to Ohio, and used every influence9 and argument that lay in my power to get those who believed in the everlasting covenant, whose circumstances would admit, and whose families were willing to remove to the place which I had designated to be the land of Zion; and thus the sound of the gathering, and of the doctrine, went abroad into the world; and many, having a zeal not according to knowledge,10 and not understanding the pure principles of the doctrine of the Church, have, no doubt, in the heat of enthusiasm, taught and said many things which are derogatory to the genuine character and principles of the Church; and for these things we are heartily sorry, and would apologize, if apology would do any good.
But we pause here, and offer a remark upon the saying which we learn has gone abroad, and has been handled in a manner detrimental to the cause of truth, by saying, “that in preaching the doctrine of gathering, we break up families, and give license for men to leave their families, women their husbands, children their parents and slaves their masters,11 thereby deranging the order and breaking up the harmony and peace of society.” We shall here show our faith, and thereby, as we humbly trust, put an end to these false and wicked misrepresentations, which have caused, we have every reason to believe, thousands to think they were doing God’s service,12 when they were persecuting the children of God;13 whereas, if they could have enjoyed the true light,14 and had a just under-
standing of our principles, they would have embraced them with all their hearts,1 and been rejoicing in the love of the truth.2 And now to show our doctrine on this subject, we shall commence with the first principles of the Gospel, which are faith, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands.3 This we believe to be our duty—to teach to all mankind the doctrine of repentance,4 which we shall endeavor to show from the following quotations:
“Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:45, 46, 47).5
By this we learn that it behooved Christ to suffer, and to be crucified, and rise again on the third day for the express purpose that repentance and remission of sins should be preached to all nations.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38, 39).6
By this we learn that the promise of the Holy Ghost7 is made unto as many as those to whom the doctrine of repentance was to be preached, which was unto all nations.8 And we discover also, that the promise was to extend by lineage; for Peter says, not only unto you, but “to your children, and to all that are afar off.”9 From this we infer, that the promise was to continue unto their children’s children, and even unto as many as the Lord their God should call.10 We discover here that we are blending two principles together in these quotations. The first is the principle of repentance, and the second is the principle of the remission of sins; and we learn from Peter that remission of sins is to be obtained by baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; and the gift of the Holy Ghost follows inevitably, for, says Peter, “you shall receive the Holy Ghost.”11
Therefore we believe in preaching the doctrine of repentance1 in all the world,2 both to old and young,3 rich and poor,4 bond and free,5 as we shall endeavor to show hereafter how, and in what manner, and how far, it is binding on the consciences of mankind, making proper distinctions between old and young, men, women, children and servants. But we discover, in order to be benefited by the doctrine of repentance, we must believe in obtaining the remission of sins. And in order to obtain the remission of sins, we must believe in the doctrine of baptism in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And if we believe in baptism for the remission of sins, we may expect a fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Ghost, for the promise extends to all whom the Lord our God shall call;6 and hath He not surely said, as you will find in the last chapter of Revelation—“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).7
Again, the Savior says, “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28, 29, 30).8
Again, Isaiah says, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return. That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength: even to Him shall men come; and all that are incensed against Him shall be ashamed” (Isaiah 45:22-24).9
* * *
“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the
good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Heb. 6:1-6).1 * * *
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., M&A, Sept. 1, 1835, also DHC 2:253-259.
At the close of my letter in the September number of the Messenger and Advocate I promised to continue the subject there commenced. I do so with a hope that it may be a benefit and a means of assistance in the labors of the Elders, while they are combating the prejudices of a crooked and perverse generation,2 by having in their possession the facts of my religious principles, which are misrepresented by almost all those whose crafts are in danger3 by the same; and also, to aid those who are anxiously inquiring, and have been excited to do so from rumor, to ascertain correctly what my principles are. I have been drawn into this course of proceeding by persecution, that is brought upon us from false rumors and misrepresentations concerning my sentiments.
But to proceed. In the letter alluded to, the principles of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins were not only set forth, but many passages of scripture were quoted, clearly elucidating the subject; let me add, I do positively rely upon the truth of those principles inculcated in the New Testament, and then pass on from the above-named items, to the item or subject of the gathering, and show my views upon this point. It is a principle I esteem to be of the greatest importance to those who are looking for salvation in this generation, or in these, that may be called, “the latter times.”4 All that the prophets that have written, from the days of righteous Abel,5 down to the last man that has left any testimony on record for our consideration, in speaking of the salvation of Israel in the last days,6 goes directly to show that it consists in the work of the gathering.
First, I shall begin by quoting from the prophecy of Enoch, speaking of the last days: “Righteousness will I send down out
of heaven, and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten, His resurrection from the dead (this resurrection I understand to be the corporeal body); yea, and also the resurrection of all men; righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare, a holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming, for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion a new Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62, 1902 edition.)1
Now I understand by this quotation, that God clearly manifested to Enoch the redemption which He prepared, by offering the Messiah as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world;2 and by virtue of the same, the glorious resurrection3 of the Savior, and the resurrection of all the human family, even a resurrection of their corporeal bodies, is brought to pass; and also righteousness and truth are to sweep the earth as with a flood. And now, I ask, how righteousness and truth are going to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer. Men and angels are to be co-workers in bringing to pass this great work, and Zion is to be prepared, even a new Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters4 of the earth, and to be established an holy city, for the tabernacle of the Lord5 shall be with them.
Now Enoch was in good company in his views upon this subject: “And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:3).6
I discover by this quotation, that John upon the isle of Patmos,7 saw the same things concerning the last days, which Enoch saw. But before the tabernacle can be with men, the elect must be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.8 And to show further upon this subject of the gathering, Moses, after having pronounced the blessing and cursing9 upon the children of Israel, for their obedience or disobedience, says thus:
“And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind, among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey His voice, according to all that I command thee, this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee. If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will He fetch thee (Deut. 30:1-4).1
It has been said by many of the learned and wise men, or historians, that the Indians or aborigines of this continent, are of the scattered tribes of Israel. It has been conjectured by many others, that the aborigines of this continent are not of the tribes of Israel, but the ten tribes have been led away into some unknown regions of the north.2 Let this be as it may, the prophecy I have just quoted “will fetch them,” in the last days, and place them in the land which their 1fathers possessed. And you will find in the 7th verse of the 30th chapter, quoted, “And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.”3
Many may say that this scripture is fulfilled, but let them mark carefully what the prophet says: “If any are driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven,” (Which must mean the breadth of the earth). Now this promise is good to any, if there should be such, that are driven out, even in the last days, therefore, the children of the fathers have claim unto this day. And if these curses are to be laid over on the heads of their enemies, wo be unto the Gentiles. (See Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi, Chap. 16, current edition). “Wo unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles, saith the Father.”4 And again (see Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 20:22, current edition, which says), “Behold this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob, and it shall be a New Jerusalem.”5 Now we learn from the Book of Mormon
the very identical continent and spot of land upon which the New Jerusalem is to stand, and it must be caught up1 according to the vision of John upon the isle of Patmos.
Now many will feel disposed to say, that this New Jerusalem spoken of, is the Jerusalem that was built by the Jews on the eastern continent. But you will see, from Revelation 21:2,2 there was a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband; that after this, the Revelator was caught away in the Spirit, to a great and high mountain, and saw the great and holy city descending out of heaven from God.3 Now there are two cites spoken of here. As everything cannot be had in so narrow a compass as a letter, I shall say with brevity, that there is a New Jerusalem to be established on this continent, and also Jerusalem shall be rebuilt on the eastern continent (see Book of Mormon, Ether 13:1-12). “Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come; after it should be destroyed, it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord, wherefore it could not be a New Jerusalem, for it had been in a time of old.”4 This may suffice, upon the subject of gathering, until my next.
I now proceed, at the close of my letter, to make a few remarks on the duty of Elders with regard to their teaching parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and slaves,5 or servants, as I said I would in my former letter.
And first, it becomes an Elder when he is traveling through the world, warning the inhabitants of the earth6 to gather together, that they may be built up an holy city unto the Lord,7 instead of commencing with children, or those who look up to parents or guardians to influence their minds, thereby drawing them from their duties, which they rightfully owe these legal guardians, they should commence their labors with parents, or guardians; and their teachings should be such as are calculated to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of children to the fathers;8 and no influence should be used with children, contrary to the consent of their parents or guardians; but all such as can be persuaded in a lawful and righteous manner, and with common consent,9 we should feel
it our duty to influence them to gather with the people of God.1 But otherwise let the responsibility rest upon the heads of parents2 or guardians, and all condemnation or consequences be upon their heads, according to the dispensation which he hath committed unto us;3 for God hath so ordained,4 that His work shall be cut short in righteousness,5 in the last days; therefore, first teach the parents,6 and then, with their consent, persuade the children to embrace the Gospel7 also. And if children embrace the Gospel, and their parents or guardians are unbelievers, teach them to stay at home and be obedient to their parents or guardians, if they require it; but if they consent to let them gather with the people of God, let them do so, and there shall be no wrong; and let all things be done carefully and righteously and God will extend to all such His guardian care.
And secondly, it is the duty of Elders, when they enter into any house,8 to let their labors and warning voice9 be unto the master of that house;10 and if he receive the Gospel, then he may extend his influence to his wife also, with consent, that peradventure she may receive the Gospel: but it a man receive not the Gospel, but gives his consent that his wife may receive it, and she believes, then let her receive it. But if a man forbid his wife, or his children, before they are of age, to receive the Gospel, then it should be the duty of the Elder to go his way, and use no influence against him, and let the responsibility be upon his head; shake off the dust of thy feet as a testimony against him,11 and thy skirts shall then be clear of their souls.12 Their sins are not to be answered upon such as God hath sent to warn them to flee the wrath to come,13 and save themselves from this untoward generation.14 The servants of God15 will not have gone over the nations of the Gentiles, with a warning voice,16 until the destroying angel17 will commence to waste the inhabitants of the earth,18 and as the prophet hath said, “It shall be a vexation to hear the report.”19 I speak thus because I feel for my fellow men;20 I do it in the name of the Lord,21 being moved upon by the Holy Spirit.22 Oh, that I could snatch them from the vortex of misery, into which I behold them plunging themselves, by their sins;23 that I might be enabled by the warning voice, to be an instrument of bringing them to unfeigned repentance,24 that they might have faith to stand in the evil day!25
Thirdly, it should be the duty of an Elder, when he enters into a house, to salute the master of that house,26 and if he gain
his consent, then he may preach to all that are in that house; but if he gain not his consent, let him not go unto his slaves,1 or servants, but let the responsibility be upon the head of the master of that house, and the consequences thereof, and the guilt of that house is no longer upon his skirts,2 he is free; therefore, let him shake off the dust of his feet,3 and go his way. But if the master of that house give consent, the Elder may preach to his family, his wife, his children and his servants, his man-servants, or his maid-servants, or his slaves; then it should be the duty of the Elder to stand up boldly for the cause of Christ,4 and warn that people5 with one accord6 to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and for the Holy Ghost,7 always commanding them in the name of the Lord,8 in the spirit of meekness,9 to be kindly affectionate one toward another,10 that the fathers should be kind to their children,11 husbands to their wives,12 masters to their slaves or servants,13 children obedient to their parents,14 wives to their husbands,15 and slaves or servants to their masters.16
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish, so ought men to love their own wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and His bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh” (Ephesians 5:22-31).17
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things, for
this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters, according to the flesh, not with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing God” (Colossians 3:18-22).1
But I must close this letter, and resume the subject in another number.
In the bonds of the New and Everlasting Covenant,2
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN., M&A, November, 1835; also DHC 2:259-264.
Friday, November 6.—At home. Attended school during school hours, returned and spent the evening at home. I was this morning introduced to a man from the east. After hearing his name, he remarked that I was nothing but a man, indicating by this expression, that he had supposed that a person to whom the Lord should see fit to reveal His will, must be something more than a man.3 He seemed to have forgotten the saying that fell from the lips of St. James, that Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, yet he had such power with God, that He, in answer to his prayers, shut the heavens that they gave no rain for the space of three years and six months; and again, in answer to his prayer, the heavens gave forth rain, and the earth gave forth fruit.4 Indeed, such is the darkness and ignorance of this generation, that they look upon it as incredible that a man should have any intercourse with his Maker. (Nov. 6, 1835). DHC, Vol. 2:302.
At six o’clock, Nov. 12, 1835, the Apostles met with the First Presidency in council and on this occasion the Prophet made the following remarks:
I am happy in the enjoyment of this opportunity of meeting with this Council on this occasion. I am satisfied that the Spirit of the Lord is here, and I am satisfied with all the brethren present; and I need not say that you have my utmost confidence, and that I intend to uphold you to the uttermost, for I am well aware that you have to sustain my character against the vile calumnies and reproaches of this ungodly generation, and that you delight in so doing.
Darkness prevails1 at this time as it did at the time Jesus Christ was about to be crucified.2 The powers of darkness3 strove to obscure the glorious Sun of righteousness,4 that began to dawn upon the world, and was soon to burst in great blessings upon the heads5 of the faithful; and let me tell you, brethren, that great blessings await us at this time, and will soon be poured out upon us,6 if we are faithful in all things,7 for we are even entitled to greater spiritual blessings8 than they were, because they had Christ in person9 with them, to instruct them10 in the great plan of salvation. His personal presence we have not, therefore we have need of greater faith, on account of our peculiar circumstances; and I am determined to do all that I can to uphold you, although I may do many things inadvertently that are not right in the sight of God.11
You want to know many things that are before you, that you may know how to prepare yourselves12 for the great things that God is about to bring to pass. But there is one great deficiency or obstruction in the way, that deprives us of the greater blessings; and in order to make the foundation of this Church complete and permanent, we must remove this obstruction, which is, to attend to certain duties that we have not as yet attended to.13 I supposed I had established this Church on a permanent foundation14 when I went to Missouri, and indeed I did so, for if I had been taken away, it would have been enough, but I yet live, and therefore God requires more at my hands.15 The item to which I wish the more particularly to call your attention to-night, is the ordinance of washing of feet.16 This we have not done as yet, but it is necessary now, as much as it was in the days of the Savior;17 and we must have a place prepared,18 that we may attend to this ordinance aside from the world.
We have not desired as much from the hand of the Lord through faith and obedience, as we ought to have done, yet we have enjoyed great blessings, and we are not so sensible of this as we should be. When or where has God suffered one of the witnesses or first Elders of this Church to fall? Never, and nowhere. Amidst all the calamities and judgments that have befallen the inhabitants of the earth,19 His almighty arm has sustained us, men and devils have raged20 and spent their malice
in vain. We must have all things prepared,1 and call our solemn assembly2 as the Lord has commanded us, that we may be able to accomplish His great work,3 and it must be done in God’s own way.4 The house of the Lord must be prepared,5 and the solemn assembly called6 and organized in it, according to the order of the house of God;7 and in it we must attend to the ordinance of washing of feet.8 It was never intended for any but official members. It is calculated to unite our hearts,9 that we may be one in feeling and sentiment, and that our faith may be strong,10 so that Satan cannot overthrow us,11 nor have any power over us12 here.
The endowment13 you are so anxious about, you cannot comprehend now, nor could Gabriel14 explain it to the understanding of your dark minds;15 but strive to be prepared in your hearts,16 be faithful in all things,17 that when we meet in the solemn assembly, that is, when such as God shall name out of all the official members shall meet, we must be clean every whit.18 Let us be faithful and silent, brethren, and if God gives you a manifestation, keep it to yourselves;19 be watchful and prayerful,20 and you shall have a prelude of those joys that God will pour out on that day. Do not watch for iniquity21 in each other, if you do you will not get an endowment, for God will not bestow it on such. But if we are faithful, and live by every word that proceeds forth from the mouth of God,22 I will venture to prophesy that we shall get a blessing that will be worth remembering, if we should live as long as John the Revelator;23 our blessings will be such as we have not realized before, nor received in this generation. The order of the house of God24 has been, and ever will be, the same,25 even after Christ comes; and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same; and we shall finally enter into the celestial kingdom of God, and enjoy it forever.
You need an endowment, brethren, in order that you may be prepared and able to overcome all things;26 and those that reject your testimony27 will be damned.28 The sick will be healed, the lame made to walk, the deaf to hear, and the blind to see,29 through your instrumentality. But let me tell you, that you will
not have power, after the endowment to heal those that have not faith,1 nor to benefit them, for you might as well expect to benefit a devil in hell as such as are possessed of his spirit, and are willing to keep it: for they are habitations for devils,2 and only fit for his society. But when you are endowed and prepared to preach the Gospel to all nations,3 kindreds, and tongues,4 in their own languages,5 you must faithfully warn all,6 and bind up the testimony, and seal up the law,7 and the destroying angel8 will follow close at your heels, and exercise his tremendous mission upon the children of disobedience;9 and destroy the workers of iniquity,10 while the Saints will be gathered out from among them, and stand in holy places11 ready to meet the Bridegroom when he comes.12
I feel disposed to speak a few words more to you, my brethren, concerning the endowment: All who are prepared, and are sufficiently pure to abide the presence of the Savior, will see Him in the solemn assembly.13
The brethren expressed their gratification for the instruction I had given them. We then closed by prayer, when I returned home and retired to rest.—DHC 2:308-310.
I decided that the High Council had nothing to do with the Twelve, or the decisions of the Twelve. But if the Twelve erred they were accountable only to the General Council of the authorities of the whole Church,14 according to the revelations. (Sept. 26, 1835). DHC, Vol. 2:285.
Remarks by the Prophet at a meeting of the High Council at Kirtland.
Much has been said and done of late by the general government in relation to the Indians (Lamanites) within the territorial limits of the United States. One of the most important points in the faith of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, through the fullness of the everlasting Gospel, is the gathering of Israel (of whom the Lamanites constitute a part) that happy time when Jacob shall go up to the house of the Lord,15 to worship Him in spirit and in truth,16 to live in holiness; when the Lord
will restore His judges as at the first, and His counselors as at the beginning;1 when every man may sit under his own vine and fig tree,2 and there will be none to molest or make afraid;3 when He will turn to them a pure language,4 and the earth will be filled with sacred knowledge, as the waters cover the great deep;5 when it shall no longer be said, the Lord lives that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but the Lord lives that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He has driven them.6 That day is one, all important to all men.
In view of its importance, together with all that the prophets have said about it before us, we feel like dropping a few ideas in connection with the official statements from the government concerning the Indians. In speaking of the gathering, we mean to be understood as speaking of it according to scripture, the gathering of the elect of the Lord7 out of every nation8 on earth, and bringing them to the place9 of the Lord of Hosts,10 when the city of righteousness11 shall be built,12 and where the people shall be of one heart and one mind,13 when the Savior comes:14 yea, where the people shall walk with God like Enoch,15 and be free from sin.16 The word of the Lord is precious;17 and when we read that the veil spread over all nations will be destroyed,18 and the pure in heart see God,19 and reign with Him a thousand years on earth,20 we want all honest men to have a chance to gather and build up a city of righteousness,21 where even upon the bells of the horses shall be written “Holiness to the Lord.”22
The Book of Mormon has made known who Israel is,23 upon this continent. And while we behold the government of the United States gathering the Indians, and locating them upon lands to be their own, how sweet it is to think that they may one day be gathered by the Gospel!24 (Jan. 6, 1836). DHC 2:357.
From the minutes of a Priesthood meeting in Kirtland Temple.
In the investigation of the subject [i.e., The Government of the House of the Lord], it was found that many who had deliberated upon it, were darkened in their minds,25 which drew forth some remarks from President Smith respecting the privileges of the authorities of the Church, that each should
speak in his turn1 and in his place, and in his time and season,2 that there may be perfect order in all things; and that every man, before he makes an objection to any item that is brought before a council for consideration, should be sure that he can throw light upon the subject rather than spread darkness,3 and that his objection be founded in righteousness, which may be done by men applying themselves closely to study the mind and will of the Lord,4 whose spirit always makes manifest and demonstrates the truth to the understanding of all who are in possession of the Spirit.5 (Jan. 15, 1836). DHC, Vol. 2:370.
I have shown unto you, in my last, that there are two Jerusalems spoken of in holy writ, in a manner I think satisfactory to your minds; at any rate I have given my views upon the subject, I shall now proceed to make some remarks from the sayings of the Savior, recorded in the 13th chapter of His Gospel according to St. Matthew,7 which, in my mind, afforded us as clear an understanding upon the important subject of the gathering, as anything recorded in the Bible. At the time the Savior spoke these beautiful sayings and parables contained in the chapter above quoted, we find Him seated in a ship8 on account of the multitude that pressed upon Him to hear His words; and He commenced teaching them, saying:
“Behold, a sower went forth to sow, and when he sowed, some seeds feel by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and forthwith they sprang up because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up they were scorched: and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up and choked them: but other fell in good ground, and brought forth good fruit, some an hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.9
“And the disciples came and said unto Him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?10 [I would here remark, that the ‘them’ made use of in this interrogation, is a personal pronoun,
and refers to the multitude.] He answered and said unto them, [that is unto the disciples] because it is given unto you, to know the mysteries1 of the Kingdom of Heaven, but to them, [that is, unbelievers] it is not given;2 for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.”3
We understand from this saying, that those who had been previously looking for a Messiah to come, according to the testimony of the prophets, and were then, at that time looking for a Messiah, but had not sufficient light, on account of their unbelief,4 to discern Him to be their Savior; and He being the true Messiah, consequently they must be disappointed, and lose even all the knowledge, or have taken away from them all the light, understanding, and faith which they had upon this subject; therefore he that will not receive the greater light, must have taken away from him all the light which he hath;5 and if the light which is in you become darkness, behold, how great is that darkness!6 “Therefore,” says the Savior, “speak I unto them in parables because they, seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand; and in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive.”7
Now we discover that the very reason assigned by this prophet,8 why they would not receive the Messiah, was, because they did not or would not understand; and seeing, they did not perceive; “for this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.”9 But what saith He to His disciples? “Blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”10
We again make remark here—for we find that the very principle upon which the disciples were accounted blessed, was
because they were permitted to see with their eyes and hear with their ears—that the condemnation which rested upon the multitude that received not His saying, was because they were not willing to see with their eyes,1 and hear with their ears; not because they could not, and were not privileged to see and hear, but because their hearts were full of iniquity2 and abominations; “as your fathers did, so do ye.”3 The prophet, foreseeing that they would thus harden their hearts,4 plainly declared it; and herein is the condemnation of the world; that light hath come into the world, and men choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.5 This is so plainly taught by the Savior, that a wayfaring man6 need not mistake it.
And again—hear ye the parable of the sower.7 Men are in the habit, when the truth is exhibited by the servants of God,8 of saying, All is mystery;9 they have spoken in parables,10 and, therefore, are not to be understood.11 It is true they have eyes to see, and see not,12 but none are so blind as those who will not see;13 and, although the Savior spoke this to such characters, yet unto His disciples he expounded it plainly;14 and we have reason to be truly humble15 before the God of our fathers,16 that He hath left these things on record for us, so plain, that notwithstanding the exertions and combined influence of the priests of Baal,17 they have not power to blind our eyes,18 and darken our understanding,19 if we will but open our eyes,20 and read with candor, for a moment.
But listen to the explanation of the parable of the Sower: “When any one heareth the word of the Kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart.”21 Now mark the expression—that which was sown in his heart. This is he which receiveth seed by the way side. Men who have no principle of righteousness in themselves, and whose hearts are full of iniquity,22 and have no desire for the principles of truth,23 do not understand the word of truth when they hear it. The devil taketh away the word of truth out of their hearts, because there is no desire for righteousness24 in them. “But he that receiveth seed in stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon, with joy receiveth it; yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the
word, by and by, he is offended. He also that receiveth seed among the thorns, is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. But he that received seed into the good ground, is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it, which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundred fold, some sixty, some thirty.”1 Thus the Savior Himself explains unto His disciples the parable which He put forth, and left no mystery or darkness upon the minds of those who firmly believe on His words.
We draw the conclusion, then, that the very reason why the multitude, or the world, as they were designated by the Savior, did not receive an explanation upon His parables, was because of unbelief.2 To you, He says (speaking to His disciples) it is given to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God.3 And why? Because of the faith and confidence they had in Him. This parable was spoken to demonstrate the effects that are produced by the preaching of the word; and we believe that it has an allusion directly, to the commencement, or the setting up of the Kingdom in that age; therefore we shall continue to trace His sayings concerning this Kingdom from that time forth, even unto the end of the world.4
“Another parable put He forth unto them, saying, [which parable has an allusion to the setting up of the Kingdom, in that age of the world also], The Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field, but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also; so the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? From whence, then, hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”5
Now we learn by this parable, not only the setting up of
the Kingdom in the days of the Savior, which is represented by the good seed, which produced fruit, but also the corruptions of the Church,1 which are represented by the tares, which were sown by the enemy,2 which His disciples would fain have plucked up,3 or cleansed the Church of, if their views had been favored by the Savior. But He, knowing all things, says, Not so. As much as to say, your views are not correct, the Church is in its infancy, and if you take this rash step, you will destroy the wheat,4 or the Church, with the tares; therefore it is better to let them grow together until the harvest,5 or the end of the world, which means the destruction of the wicked,6 which is not yet fulfilled, as we shall show hereafter, in the Savior’s explanation of the parable, which is so plain that there is no room left for dubiety upon the mind, notwithstanding the cry of the priests—“parables, parables! figures, figures! mystery, mystery! all is mystery!”7 But we find no room for doubt here, as the parables were all plainly elucidated.
And again, another parable put He forth unto them, having an allusion to the Kingdom that should be set up, just previous to or at the time of the harvest, which reads as follows—“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field: which indeed is the least of all seeds: but, when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”8 Now we can discover plainly that this figure is given to represent the Church as it shall come forth9 in the last days. Behold, the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto it. Now, what is like unto it?
Let us take the Book of Mormon, which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering, with lofty branches, and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth,10 and righteousness begins to look down from heaven, and God is sending down His powers, gifts and angels, to lodge in the branches thereof.
The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a mustard seed. Be-
hold, then is not this the Kingdom of Heaven that is raising its head in the last days in the majesty of its God,1 even the Church of the Latter-day Saints,2 like an impenetrable, immovable rock in the midst of the mighty deep,3 exposed to the storms and tempests of Satan, but has, thus far, remained steadfast, and is still braving the mountain waves of opposition, which are driven by the tempestuous winds of sinking crafts, which have [dashed] and are still dashing with tremendous foam across its triumphant brow; urged onward with redoubled fury by the enemy of righteousness,4 with his pitchfork of lies, as you will see fairly represented in a cut contained in Mr. Howe’s Mormonism Unveiled? And we hope that this adversary of truth will continue to stir up the sink of iniquity, that the people may the more readily discern between the righteous and the wicked.5
We also would notice one of the modern sons of Sceva,6 who would fain have made people believe that he could cast out devils, by a certain pamphlet, the Millennial Harbinger, that went the rounds through our country; who felt so fully authorized to brand “Jo” Smith with the appellation of Elymas the sorcerer, and to say with Paul, “O full of all subtlety, and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?”7 We should reply to this gentleman, Paul we know, and Christ we know, but who are ye?8 And with the best of feeling would say to him, in the language of Paul to those who said they were John’s disciples, but had not so much as heard there was a Holy Ghost9—to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins,10 by those who have legal authority, and under their hands you shall receive the Holy Ghost,11 according to the Scriptures:
“Then laid they their hands upon them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8:17).12 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them the Holy Ghost came on them and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).13 “Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:2).14 “How, then, shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not
heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the Gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things” (Romans 10:14, 15).1 But if this man will not take our admonition, but will persist in his wicked course,2 we hope that he will continue trying to cast out devils, that we may have the clearer proof that the kingdom of Satan is divided against itself, and consequently cannot stand; for a kingdom divided against itself, speedily hath an end.3
* * *
“And another parable spake He unto them. The Kingdom of Heaven is like unto leaven which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till the whole was leavened.”4 It may be understood that the Church of the Latter-day Saints has taken its rise from a little leaven that was put into three witnesses. Behold, how much this is like the parable! It is fast leavening the lump, and will soon leaven the whole. But let us pass on.
“All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake He not unto them: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables;5 I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and His disciples came unto Him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the Kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one.”6 Now let our readers mark the expression—“the field is the world, the tares are the children of the wicked one, the enemy that sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the world, [let them carefully mark this expression—the end of the world] and the reapers are the angels.”7
Now men cannot have any possible grounds to say that this is figurative, or that it does not mean what it says: for He
is now explaining what He had previously spoken in parables; and according to this language, the end of the world is the destruction of the wicked,1 the harvest and the end of the world have no allusion directly to the human family in the last days, instead of the earth, as many have imagined; and that which shall precede the coming of the Son of Man,2 and the restitution of all things spoken of by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began;3 and the angels are to have something to do in this great work, for they are the reapers.4 As, therefore, the tares are gathered and burned in the fire,5 so shall it be in the end of the world; that is, as the servants of God go forth warning the nations,6 both priests and people, and as they harden their hearts7 and reject the light of truth,8 these first being delivered over to the buffetings of Satan,9 and the law and the testimony10 being closed up, as it was in the case of the Jews, they are left in darkness, and delivered over unto the day of burning;11 thus being bound up by their creeds,12 and their bands being made strong13 by their priests, are prepared for the fulfilment of the saying of the Savior—“The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and gather out of His Kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”14 We understand that the work of gathering together of the wheat15 into barns, or garners,16 is to take place while the tares are being bound over,17 and preparing for the day of burning;18 that after the day of burnings,19 the righteous shall shine forth like the sun, in the Kingdom of their Father.20 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.21
But to illustrate more clearly this gathering: We have another parable—“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure hid in a field, the which, when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof, goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field!”22 The Saints work after this pattern. See the Church of the Latter-day Saints, selling all that they have, and gathering themselves together unto a place that they may purchase for an inheritance,23 that they may be together and bear each other’s afflictions24 in the day of calamity.25
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a merchantman seeking goodly pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of
great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”1 The Saints again work after this example. See men traveling to find places for Zion and her stakes or remnants, who, when they find the place for Zion, or the pearl of great price, straightway sell that they have, and buy it.2
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which when it was full they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away.”3 For the work of this pattern, behold the seed of Joseph,4 spreading forth the Gospel net upon the face of the earth,5 gathering of every kind, that the good may be saved in vessels prepared for that purpose, and the angels will take care of the bad.6 So shall it be at the end of the world—the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire, and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.7
“Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto Him, Yea, Lord.”8 And we say, yea, Lord; and well might they say, yea, Lord; for these things are so plain and so glorious, that every Saint in that last days must respond with a hearty Amen to them.
“Then said He unto them, therefore every scribe which is instructed in the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things that are new and old.”9
For the works of this example, see the Book of Mormon coming forth out of the treasure of the heart.10 Also the covenants given to the Latter-day Saints, also the translation of the Bible—thus bringing forth out of the heart things new and old,11 thus answering to three measures of meal12 undergoing the purifying touch by a revelation of Jesus Christ,13 and the ministering of angels,14 who have already commenced this work in the last days, which will answer to the leaven which leavened the whole lump.15 Amen.
So I close, but shall continue the subject in another number.
In the bonds of the New and Everlasting Covenant,
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.
—Messenger and Advocate, Dec. 1835, also DHC 2:264-272.
While sitting in my house, between ten and eleven this morning, a man came in and introduced himself to me by the name of “Joshua, the Jewish Minister.” His appearance was something singular, having a beard about three inches in length, quite grey; also his hair was long and considerably silvered with age; I thought him about fifty or fifty-five years old; tall, straight, slender built, of thin visage, blue eyes, and fair complexion; wore a sea-green frock coat and pantaloons, black fur hat with narrow brim; and, while speaking, frequently shut his eyes, with a scowl on his countenance. I made some inquiry after his name, but received no definite answer. We soon commenced talking on the subject of religion, and, after I had made some remarks concerning the Bible, I commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, as recorded in the former part of this history.
While I was relating a brief history of the establishment of the Church of Christ1 in the last days, Joshua seemed to be highly entertained. When I had closed my narration, I observed that the hour of worship and dinner had arrived, and invited him to tarry, to which he consented. After dinner, the conversation was resumed, and Joshua proceeded to make some remarks on the prophecies, as follows—he observed that he was aware that I could bear stronger meat2 than many others, therefore he should open his mind the more freely:
Daniel has told us that he is to stand in his proper lot,3 in the latter days; according to his vision he had a right to shut it up, and also to open it again after many days,4 or in latter times. Daniel’s image, whose head was gold, and body, arms, legs and feet, were composed of the different materials described in his vision,5 represents different governments. The golden head was to represent Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon;6 the other parts, other kings and forms of governments which I shall not now mention in detail, but confine my remarks more particularly to the feet of the image.7 The policy of the wicked spirit8 is to separate what God has joined together,9 and unite what He has separated, which the devil has succeeded in doing to admiration in the present society, which is like unto iron and clay.10
There is confusion in all things, both political and religious; and notwithstanding all the efforts that are made to bring about a union, society remains disunited, and all attempts to unite it are as fruitless as to attempt to unite iron and clay. The feet of the image1 are the government of these United States. Other nations and kingdoms are looking up to her for an example of union, freedom, and equal rights, and therefore worship her as Daniel saw in the vision;2 although they are beginning to lose confidence in her, seeing the broils and discord that rise on her political and religious horizon. The image is characteristic of all governments.
We should leave Babylon. Twenty-four hours of improvement now, are worth as much as a year a hundred years ago. The spirits of the fathers that were cut down, or those that were under the altar,3 are now rising; this is the first resurrection. The Elder that falls first will rise last.4 We should not form any opinion only for the present, and leave the result of futurity with God. I have risen up out of obscurity,5 but was looked up to in temporal things when but a youth. It is not necessary that God should give us all things in His first commission to us, but in His second. John saw the angel deliver the Gospel in the last days.6 The small lights that God has given are sufficient to lead us out of Babylon;7 when we get out, we shall have the greater light.8
I told Joshua I did not understand his remarks on the resurrection, and wished him to explain. He replied that he did not feel impressed by the Spirit to unfold it further at present,9 but perhaps he might at some future time.
I then withdrew to transact some business with a gentleman who had called to see me, when Joshua informed my scribe that he was born in Cambridge, Washington County, New York. He says that all the railroads, canals, and other improvements are projected by the spirits of the resurrection. The silence spoken of by John the Revelator, which is to be in heaven for the space of half an hour,10 is between 1830 and 1851, during which time the judgments of God will be poured out,11 after that time there will be peace. * * *
Suspicions were entertained that the said Joshua was the noted Matthias of New York, spoken so much of in the public
prints, on account of the trials he endured in that place, before a court of justice, for murder, man-slaughter, contempt of court, whipping his daughter, etc.; for the last two crimes he was imprisoned and came out about four months since. After some equivocating, he confessed that he really was Matthias.
After supper I proposed that he should deliver a lecture to us. He did so, sitting in his chair.
He commenced by saying, God said, let there by light, and there was light,1 which he dwelt upon throughout his discourse. He made some very excellent remarks, but his mind was evidently filled with darkness.2 * * *
I resumed conversation with Matthias, and desired him to enlighten my mind more on his views respecting the resurrection.
He said that he possessed the spirit of his fathers, that he was a literal descendant3 of Matthias, the Apostle,4 who was chosen in the place of Judas that fell;5 that his spirit was resurrected in him; and that this was the way or scheme of eternal life—this transmigration of soul or spirit from father to son.
I told him that his doctrine was of the devil,6 that he was in reality in possession of a wicked and depraved spirit,7 although he professed to be the Spirit of truth8 itself; and he said also that he possessed the soul of Christ.
He tarried until Wednesday, 11th, when, after breakfast, I told him, that my God told me, that his god was the devil,9 and I could not keep him any longer, and he must depart. And so I, for once, cast out the devil10 in bodily shape, and I believe a murderer. (Nov. 9, 1835.) DHC 2:304-307.
From the minutes of a special meeting with the Twelve Apostles.
President Smith next proceeded to explain the duty of the Twelve,11 and their authority, which is next to the present Presidency, and that the arrangement of the assembly in this place, on the 15th instant, in placing the High Councils of Kirtland next the Presidency, was because the business to be transacted, was business relating to that body in particular, which was to fill the several quorums in Kirtland, not because they were first in office, and that the arrangements were the most judicious that could be made on the occasion; also the
Twelve are not subject to any other than the First Presidency,1 viz., “myself,” said the Prophet, “Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, who are now my Counselors, and where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve.”
The Prophet also stated to the Twelve that he did not countenance the harsh language of the President Cowdery to them, neither would he countenance it in himself nor in any other man, “although,” said he, “I have sometimes spoken too harshly from the impulse of the moment, and inasmuch as I have wounded your feelings, brethren, I ask your forgiveness, for I love you2 and will hold you up with all my heart in all righteousness, before the Lord, and before all men; for be assured, brethren, I am willing to stem the torrent of all opposition, in storms and in tempests, in thunders and in lightnings, by sea and by land,3 in the wilderness or among false brethren,4 or mobs, or wherever God in His providence may call us. And I am determined that neither heights nor depths, principalities nor powers, things present or things to come, or any other creature, shall separate me from you.5 And I will now covenant with you before God, that I will not listen to or credit any derogatory report6 against any of you, nor condemn you upon any testimony beneath the heavens, short of that testimony which is infallible, until I can see you face to face,7 and know of a surety;8 and I do place unremitted confidence in your word, for I believe you to be men of truth.9 And I ask the same of you, when I tell you anything, that you place equal confidence in my word, for I will not tell you I know anything that I do not know. But I have already consumed more time than I intended when I commenced, and I will now give way to my colleagues.” (January 16, 1836.) DHC 2:373-374.
On the twenty-first day of January, 1836,10 the First Presidency, and a number of the presiding brethren in the Church, assembled in the Kirtland Temple where they engaged in the ordinances of the endowment, as far as it had at that time been revealed. After this was done the Prophet states that “All of the Presidency laid their hands upon me, and pronounced upon my head many prophecies and blessings, many of which I shall not notice at this time. But as Paul said, so say I, let us come to visions and revelations.”11 “All of the Presidency” included Oliver Cowdery and Father Joseph Smith as well as the two counselors, Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams. Following this ordinance the following vision and revelation were given to the Prophet, making known to him and through him to the
Church one of the most important principles pertaining to the salvation of men.
The heavens were opened upon us,1 and I beheld the celestial kingdom of God, and the glory thereof,2 whether in the body or out I cannot tell.3 I saw the transcendent beauty of the gate4 through which the heirs of that kingdom5 will enter, which was like unto circling flames of fire;6 also the blazing throne of God,7 whereon was seated the Father and the Son.8 I saw the beautiful streets of that kingdom, which had the appearance of being paved with gold.9 I saw Father Adam10 and Abraham,11 and my father12 and my mother, my brother, Alvin, that has long since slept, and marvelled how it was that he had obtained an inheritance13 in that kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins.14
Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying15—
All who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry,16 shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that kingdom, for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works,17 according to the desire of their hearts.18 And I also beheld that all children who die before they arrive at the years of accountability, are saved in the celestial kingdom of heaven.19—DHC 2:380-381.
I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb,20 who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry,21 in foreign lands, standing together in a circle,22 much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold Him.23 The Savior looked upon them and wept.24 (January 21, 1836.) DHC 2:381.
I also beheld Elder M’Lellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart,1 by the mighty power of God.2 Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God3 standing above his head, with a drawn sword4 in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it. And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption of Zion,5 and many things which the tongue of men cannot describe in full.6 (Jan. 21, 1836.) DHC 2:381.
First. Resolved—That no one be ordained to any office7 in the Church in this stake of Zion, at Kirtland, without the unanimous voice of the several bodies that constitute this quorum,8 who are appointed to do Church business in the name of said Church, viz., the Presidency of the Church;9 the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb;10 the twelve High Councilors of Kirtland;11 the twelve High Councilors of Zion;12 the Bishop of Kirtland13 and his counselors; the Bishop of Zion14 and his counselors; and the seven presidents of Seventies;15 until otherwise ordered by said quorums.
Second. And further Resolved—That no one be ordained in the branches of said Church abroad, unless they are recommended by the voice16 of the respective branches of the Church to which they belong, to a general conference17 appointed by the heads of the Church,18 and from that conference receive their ordination. The foregoing resolutions were concurred in by the presidents of the Seventies.19 (Feb. 12, 1836.) DHC 2:394.
I was informed today that a man by the name of Clark, who was under the influence of ardent spirits froze to death last night, near this place. How long, O Lord, will this monster intemperance find its victims on the earth! I fear until the
earth is swept with the wrath and indignation of God,1 and Christ’s kingdom2 becomes universal. O, come, Lord Jesus,3 and cut short Thy work in righteousness.4 (March 12, 1836.) DHC 2:406.
I then called upon the quorums and congregation of Saints to acknowledge the Twelve Apostles, who were present, as Prophets, Seers, Revelators,5 and special witnesses6 to all the nations of the earth, holding the keys of the kingdom, to unlock it,7 or cause it to be done, among them, and uphold them by their prayers,8 which they assented to by rising. (March 27, 1836.) DHC 2:417.
While waiting, [i.e., for preparations for the observance of the Sacrament] I made the following remarks: that the time that we were required to tarry in Kirtland to be endowed,9 would be fulfilled in a few days, and then the Elders would go forth, and each must stand for himself,10 as it was not necessary for them to be sent out, two by two,11 as in former times, but to go in all meekness,12 in sobriety, and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified;13 not to contend14 with others on account of their faith, or systems of religion, but pursue a steady course. This I delivered by way of commandment;15 and all who observe it not, will pull down persecution upon their heads, while those who do, shall always be filled with the Holy Ghost;16 this I pronounced as a prophecy, and sealed with hosanna17 and amen. Also that the Seventies are not called to serve tables,18 or preside over churches, to settle difficulties, but are to preach the Gospel19 and build them up, and set others, who do not belong to these quorums, to preside over them, who are High Priests. The Twelve also are not to serve tables,20 but to bear the keys of the Kingdom21 to all nations, and unlock the door22 of the Gospel23 to them, and call upon the Seventies24 to follow after them, and assist them. The Twelve are at liberty to go wheresoever they will, and if any one will say, I wish to go to such a place, let all the rest say amen.25
The Seventies are at liberty to go to Zion if they please, or go wheresoever they will, and preach the Gospel; and let
the redemption of Zion be our object,1 and strive to effect it by sending up all the strength of the Lord’s house,2 wherever we find them; and I want to enter into the following covenant,3 that if any more of our brethren are slain or driven from their lands in Missouri, by the mob, we will give ourselves no rest, until we are avenged of our enemies4 to the uttermost.5 This covenant was sealed6 unanimously, with hosanna and an amen.
I then observed to the quorums, that I had now completed the organization of the Church, and we had passed through all the necessary ceremonies,a that I had given them all the instruction they needed, and that they now were at liberty, after obtaining their licenses,7 to go forth and build up the Kingdom of God,8 and that it was expedient for me and the Presidency to retire, having spent the night previously in waiting upon the Lord9 in His Temple, and having to attend another dedication on the morrow, or conclude the one commenced on the last Sabbath, for the benefit of those of my brethren and sisters who could not get into the house on the former occasion, but that it was expedient for the brethren to tarry all night10 and worship before the Lord11 in His house. (March 29, 1836.) DHC 2:431-432.
At an early hour on Thursday, the 6th of April, the official members assembled in the House of the Lord,12 when
aIn speaking here of the completion of the organization of the Church, the Prophet had reference to the organizations of the Priesthood quorums and the reference to the bestowal of “all the necessary ceremonies,” and that he had given the brethren “all the instruction they needed,” had reference to their setting apart and the receiving of all the necessary blessings to enable them to go forth and preach the Gospel in all the world. They were now prepared by instruction and endowment sufficiently to carry the message acceptably to the world. This remark by the Prophet did not have any reference to other ceremonies which were revealed later, as set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 124, 127, 128 and 132.
In 1834 (see D. and C. 105:33) the Elders who had been preaching the Gospel were instructed to gather at Kirtland and there they were endowed. This is the commandment: “Verily I say unto you, it is expedient in me that the first elders of my church should receive their endowment from on high in my house, which I have commanded to be built unto my name in the land of Kirtland.” In the month of March, 1836, these endowment ceremonies were given. These ceremonies were not as complete as are the endowment ceremonies given in the Church today, but they were sufficient for the needs of that time and in keeping with the commandment of the Lord herein stated.
the time for the first two or three hours was spent by the different quorums in washing of feet,1 singing,2 praying,3 and preparing to receive instructions4 from the Presidency. The Presidents, together with the Seventies and their presidents, repaired to the west room in the attic story, where, for want of time the preceding evening, it became necessary to seal the anointing5 of those who had recently been anointed and not sealed.
Another subject of vital importance to the Church, was the establishing of the grades of the different quorums. It was ascertained that all but one or two of the presidents of the Seventies were High Priests, and when they had ordained and set apart any from the quorum of Elders, into the quorum of Seventies, they had conferred upon them the High Priesthood also. This was declared to be wrong, and not according to the order of heaven.6 New presidents of the Seventies were accordingly ordained to fill the places of such of them as were High Priests, and the ex-officio presidents, and such of the Seventies as had been legally ordained to be High Priests, were directed to unite with the High Priests’ quorum. (April 6, 1837.) DHC 2:475-476.
A solemn assembly of the official members of the Church was held in the Kirtland Temple commencing Monday, April 3rd, and continuing each day until Thursday the 6th. On the latter day, after these official members had received their endowment as far as it was revealed in the Kirtland Temple, the Prophet addressed them on many subjects, a synopsis of which in relation to the Priesthood he recorded in his journal as follows—
President Joseph Smith, Jun., addressed the assembly and said, the Melchizedek High Priesthood7 was no other than the Priesthood of the Son of God;8 that there are certain ordinances which belong to the Priesthood,9 from which flow certain results; and the Presidents or Presidency are over the Church;10 and revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church,11 are to come through the Presidency. This is the order of heaven,12 and the power and privilege of this Priesthood. It is also the privilege of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates to his particular calling and duty in the Church. All are bound by the principles of virtue and happiness, but one great privilege of the Priesthood is to obtain revelations13 of the
mind and will of God. It is also the privilege of the Melchizedek Priesthood, to reprove, rebuke, and admonish,1 as well as to receive revelation.2 If the Church knew all the commandments, one-half they would condemn through prejudice and ignorance.
A High Priest3 is a member of the same Melchizedek Priesthood with the Presidency, but not of the same power or authority in the Church. The Seventies4 are also members of the same Priesthood, [i.e., the High Priesthood], are a sort of traveling council5 or Priesthood, and may preside over a church or churches, until a High Priest can be had. The Seventies are to be taken from the quorum of Elders, and are not to be High Priests. They are subject to the direction and dictation of the Twelve,6 who have the keys of the ministry. All are to preach the Gospel,7 by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost;8 and no man can preach the Gospel without the Holy Ghost.9
The Bishop10 is a High Priest, and necessarily so, because he is to preside over that particular branch of Church affairs, that is denominated the Lesser Priesthood,11 and because we have no direct lineal descendant of Aaron, to whom it would of right belong. This is the same, or a branch of the same, Priesthood, which may be illustrated by the figure of the human body, which has different members, which have different offices to perform; all are necessary in their place, and the body is not complete without all the members.12
From a retrospect of the requirements of the servants of God to preach the Gospel,13 we find few qualified even to be Priests, and if a Priest understands his duty,14 his calling, and ministry, and preaches by the Holy Ghost,15 his enjoyment is as great as if he were one of the Presidency; and his services are necessary in the body, as are also those of Teachers and Deacons. Therefore, in viewing the Church as a whole, we may strictly denominate it one Priesthood.16 President Smith also said:
“I frequently rebuke and admonish my brethren,17 and that because I love them, not because I wish to incur their displeasure, or mar their happiness. Such a course of conduct is
not calculated to gain the good will of all, but rather the ill will of many; therefore, the situation in which I stand is an important one; so, you see, brethren, the higher the authority, the greater the difficulty of the station; but these rebukes and admonitions become necessary, from the perverseness1 of the brethren, for their temporal as well as spiritual welfare. They actually constitute a part of the duties of my station and calling. Others have other duties to perform, that are important, and far more enviable, and may be just as good, like the feet and hands, in their relation to the human body—neither can claim priority, or say to the other, I have no need of you.2 After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.3
“There are many causes of embarrassment, of a pecuniary nature, now pressing upon the heads of the Church. They began poor; were needy, destitute, and were truly afflicted by their enemies; yet the Lord commanded them to go forth and preach the Gospel,4 to sacrifice their time, their talents,5 their good name, and jeopardize their lives; and in addition to this, they were to build a house for the Lord,6 and prepare for the gathering of the Saints.7 Thus it is easy to see this must [have] involved them [in financial difficulties]. They had no temporal means in the beginning commensurate with such an undertaking; but this work must be done; this place [Kirtland] had to be built up. Large contracts have been entered into for lands on all sides, where our enemies have signed away their rights. We are indebted to them but our brethren from abroad have only to come with their money,8 take these contracts, relieve their brethren from the pecuniary embarrassments under which they now labor, and procure for themselves a peaceable place of rest among us. This place must and will be built up, and every brother that will take hold and help secure and discharge those contracts that have been made, shall be rich.”9 (April 6, 1837.) DHC 2:477-479.
The Constitution of our country formed by the Fathers of liberty. Peace and good order in society. Love to God, and good will to man.1 All good and wholesome laws, virtue and truth above all things, and aristarchy, live forever! But woe to tyrants, mobs, aristocracy, anarchy, and toryism, and all those who invent or seek out unrighteous and vexatious law suits, under the pretext and color of law, or office, either religious or political. Exalt the standard of Democracy! Down with that of priestcraft,2 and let all the people say Amen!3 that the blood of our fathers may not cry from the ground against us.4 Sacred is the memory of that blood which bought for us our liberty.5
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
THOMAS B. MARSH,
DAVID W. PATTEN,
SAMUEL H. SMITH,
GEORGE M. HINKLE,
GEORGE W. ROBINSON.
—DHC 3:9. (March, 1838).
President Joseph Smith, Jr., next made a few remarks on the Word of Wisdom,6 giving the reason of its coming forth, saying it should be observed.a (April 7, 1838.) FWR, p. 111.
aThis statement by the Prophet is in accord with the action of the High Council of the Church shortly after its organization in February, 1834. At one of the earliest meetings of this council over which the Presidency of the Church presided, the following action was taken: The question was asked:
“Whether disobedience to the word of wisdom was a transgression sufficient to deprive an official member from holding office in the Church, after having it sufficiently taught him?” After a free and full discussion, Joseph Smith the Prophet gave the following decision which was unanimously accepted by the council: “No official member in this Church is worthy to hold an office after having the word of wisdom properly taught him and he, the official member, neglecting to comply with and obey it.”
Verily, thus saith the Lord, let my servant Brigham Young go unto the place which he has bought, on Mill Creek, and there provide for his family until an effectual door is opened1 for the support of his family, until I shall command him to go hence, and not to leave his family until they are amply provided for.2 Amen. (April 17, 1838.) DHC 3:23.
Sunday, May 6, 1838—I preached to the Saints, setting forth the evils that existed, and that would exist, by reason of hasty judgment,3 or decisions upon any subject given by any people, or in judging before they had heard both sides of a question.4 I also cautioned the Saints against men who came amongst them whining and growling about their money, because they had kept the Saints, and borne some of the burden with others,5 and thus thinking that others, who are still poorer, and have borne greater burdens than they themselves, ought to make up their losses. I cautioned the Saints to beware of such, for they were throwing out insinuations here and there, to level a dart at the best interests of the Church, and if possible destroy the character of its Presidency. I also gave some instructions in the mysteries of the kingdom6 of God; such as the history of the planets, Abraham’s writings upon the planetary systems,7 etc.a
aThere is a prevalent notion in the world today that before the time of Columbus, Galileo, and Copernicus, all ancient people believed that the earth was flat and the center of the universe. From the writings of the Scriptures, and more especially those which have come to us in this dispensation, we know that the ancient peoples, when they were guided by the Spirit of the Lord, had the true conception of the universe. The Lord revealed to Abraham great truths about the heavenly bodies, their revolutions, times and seasons, and these were published by the Prophet Joseph Smith before modern astronomers were familiar with these facts. From the writings of Abraham we learn that the Egyptians understood the nature of the planets. Moses also recorded much about this and other worlds, but because of the unbelief and apostasy from truth, these writings were eliminated from his writings. In the Book of Abraham we find the following:
“But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs concerning, the right of Priesthood the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands therefore a knowledge of the beginning of the creation, and also of the planets, and of the stars, as they were made known unto the fathers, have I kept even unto this day, and I shall endeavor to write some of these things upon this record, for the benefit of my posterity that shall come after me.”
We learn from the Book of Mormon (Helaman 12:13-15) that the Ne-
In the afternoon I spoke again on different subjects: the principle of wisdom,1 and the Word of Wisdom.2 (May 6, 1838.) DHC 3:27.
I answered the questions which were frequently asked me, while on my last journey but one from Kirtland to Missouri, as printed in the Elders’ Journal, Vol. 1, Number 2, pages 28 and 29, as follows:
First—“Do you believe the Bible?”
If we do, we are the only people under heaven that does, for there are none of the religious sects of the day that do.
Second—“Wherein do you differ from other sects?”
In that we believe the Bible,3 and all other sects profess to believe their interpretations of the Bible, and their creeds.
Third—“Will everybody be damned, but Mormons?”
Yes, and a great portion of them, unless they repent, and work righteousness.4
Fourth—“How and where did you obtain the Book of Mormon?”
Moroni, who deposited the plates5 in a hill in Manchester, Ontario County, New York, being dead and raised again therefrom, appeared unto me, and told me where they were, and gave me directions how to obtain them. I obtained them, and the Urim and Thummim6 with them, by the means of which I translated the plates; and thus came the Book of Mormon.
Fifth—“Do you believe Joseph Smith, Jun., to be a Prophet?”
Yes, and every other man who has the testimony of Jesus. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.—Revelation, 19:10th verse.7
Sixth—“Do the Mormons believe in having all things in common?”8
Seventh—“Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?”9
No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again. But we do
phites understood the nature of the planets. It was not until apostasy and rebellion against the things of God that the true knowledge of the universe, as well as the knowledge of other truths, became lost among men.
disapprove of the custom, which has gained in the world, and has been practiced among us, to our great mortification, in marrying in five or six weeks, or even in two or three months, after the death of their companion. We believe that due respect ought to be had to the memory of the dead, and the feelings of both friends and children.a
Eighth—“Can they [the Mormons] raise the dead?”
No, nor can any other people that now lives, or ever did live. But God can raise the dead,1 through man as an instrument.
Ninth—“What signs does Joseph Smith give of his divine mission?”
The signs which God is pleased to let him give, according as His wisdom thinks best, in order that He may judge the world2 agreeably to His own plan.
Tenth—“Was not Joseph Smith a money digger?”
Yes, but it was never a very profitable job for him, as he only got fourteen dollars a month for it.
Eleventh—“Did not Joseph Smith steal his wife?”
Ask her, she was of age, she can answer for herself.3
Twelfth—“Do the people have to give up their money when they join his Church?”
No other requirement than to bear their proportion of the expenses of the Church, and support the poor.4
Thirteenth—“Are the Mormons abolitionists?”
No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan,5 should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free.
Fourteenth—“Do they not stir up the Indians to war, and to commit depredations?”
No, and they who reported the story knew it was false when they put it in circulation. These and similar reports are
aNotwithstanding this remark about due respect for both the living and the dead, the Prophet varied from this view in counseling his brother Hyrum. Hyrum Smith’s wife Jerusha, died in October, 1837, leaving an infant daughter and a large family of small children. The Prophet told his brother Hyrum that it was the will of the Lord that he should marry without delay and take as a wife a young English girl, named Mary Fielding, who had joined the Church through the preaching of Elder Parley P. Pratt in Toronto, Canada. Hyrum accepted this counsel from the Prophet and Mary Fielding became his wife and the mother of President Joseph F. Smith, who was born November 13, 1838.
palmed upon the people by the priests, and this is the only reason why we ever thought of answering them.
Fifteenth—“Do the Mormons baptize in the name of ‘Joe’ Smith?”
No, but if they did, it would be as valid as the baptism administered by the sectarian priests.1
Sixteenth—“If the Mormon doctrine is true, what has become of all those who died since the days of the Apostles?”
All those who have not had an opportunity of hearing the Gospel,2 and being administered unto by an inspired man3 in the flesh, must have it hereafter, before they can be finally judged.
Seventeenth—“Does not ‘Joe’ Smith profess to be Jesus Christ?”
No, but he professes to be His brother, as all other Saints have done and now do: Matt. 12:49, 50, “And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren; for whosoever shall do the will of my Father, which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.”4
Eighteenth—“Is there anything in the Bible which licenses you to believe in revelation now-a-days?”
Is there anything that does not authorize us to believe so? If there is, we have, as yet, not been able to find it.
Nineteenth—“Is not the canon of the Scriptures full?”
If it is, there is a great defect in the book, or else it would have said so.
Twentieth—“What are the fundamental principles of your religion?”
The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day,5 and ascended into heaven;6 and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost,7 the power of faith,8 the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts9 according to the will of God,10 the restoration of the house of Israel,11 and the final triumph of truth.
I published the foregoing answers to save myself the trouble of repeating the same a thousand times over and over again. (May 8, 1838.) DHC 3:28-30.
Saturday, 19—This morning we struck our tents and formed a line of march, crossing Grand River at the mouth of Honey Creek and Nelson’s Ferry. Grand River is a large, beautiful, deep and rapid stream, during the high waters of Spring, and will undoubtedly admit of navigation by steamboat and other water craft. At the mouth of Honey Creek is a good landing. We pursued our course up the river, mostly through timber, for about eighteen miles, when we arrived at Colonel Lyman Wight’s home. He lives at the foot of Tower Hill1 (a name I gave the place in consequence of the remains of an old Nephite altar or tower that stood there), where we camped for the Sabbath.
In the afternoon I went up the river about half a mile to Wight’s Ferry, accompanied by President Rigdon, and my clerk, George W. Robinson, for the purpose of selecting and laying claim to a city plat near said ferry in Daviess County, township 60, ranges 27 and 28, and sections 25, 36, 31, and 30, which the brethren called “Spring Hill,” but by the mouth of the Lord it was named Adam-ondi-Ahman,2 because, said He, it is the place where Adam shall come to visit his people, or the Ancient of Days shall sit, as spoken of by Daniel the Prophet.3 (May 19, 1838.) DHC 3:34-35.
December 16, 1838.
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Caldwell county, and all the Saints who are scattered abroad,4 who are persecuted,5 and made desolate,6 and who are afflicted in divers manners7 for Christ’s sake8 and the Gospel’s,9 by the hands of a cruel mob and the tyrannical disposition of the authorities of this state; and whose perils are greatly augmented by the wickedness and corruption of false brethren,10 greeting:
May grace, mercy, and the peace11 of God be and abide with you;12 and notwithstanding all your sufferings,13 we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare,14 day and night. We believe that that God who seeth us in this solitary place,15 will hear our prayers, and reward you openly.16
Know assuredly,1 dear brethren, that it is for the testimony of Jesus2 that we are in bonds and in prison.3 But we say unto you, that we consider that our condition is better4 (notwithstanding our sufferings)5 than that of those who have persecuted us, and smitten us, and borne false witness6 against us; and we most assuredly believe that those who do bear false witness against us, do seem to have a great triumph over us for the present. But we want you to remember Haman and Mordecai: you know that Haman could not be satisfied so long as he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate,7 and he sought the life of Mordecai and the destruction of the people of the Jews. But the Lord so ordered it, that Haman was hanged upon his own gallows.8
So shall it come to pass with poor Haman in the last days, and those who have sought by unbelief and wickedness9 and by the principle of mobocracy to destroy us and the people of God, by killing and scattering them abroad, and wilfully and maliciously delivering us into the hands of murderers,10 desiring us to be put to death,11 thereby having us dragged about in chains and cast into prison.12 And for what cause? It is because we were honest men,13 and were determined to defend the lives of the Saints14 at the expense of our own. I say unto you, that those who have thus vilely treated us, like Haman, shall be hanged upon their own gallows;15 or, in other words, shall fall into their own gin, and snare,16 and ditch17 and trap,18 which they have prepared for us, and shall go backwards and stumble and fall,19 and their name shall be blotted out,20 and God shall reward them according to all their abominations.21
Dear brethren, do not think that our hearts faint,22 as though some strange thing had happened unto us,23 for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand,24 and have an assurance25 of a better hope26 than that of our persecutors. Therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden.27 We glory in our tribulation,28 because we know that God is with us,29 that He is our friend,30 and that He will save our souls.31 We do not care for them that can kill the body;32 they cannot harm our souls. We ask no favors at the hands of mobs, nor of the
world, nor of the devil, nor of his emissaries the dissenters, and those who love, and make, and swear falsehoods,1 to take away our lives.2 We have never dissembled,3 nor will we for the sake of our lives.4
Forasmuch, then, as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mind, might, and strength,5 to do the will of God,6 and all things whatsoever He has commanded us;7 and as to our light speeches,8 which may have escaped our lips from time to time, they have nothing to do with the fixed purposes of our hearts; therefore it sufficeth us to say, that our souls were vexed from day to day.9 We refer you to Isaiah, who considers those who make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate.10 We believe that the old Prophet verily told the truth: and we have no retraction to make. We have reproved in the gate, and men have laid snares for us. We have spoken words, and men have made us offenders. And notwithstanding all this, our minds are not yet darkened,11 but feel strong in the Lord.12 But behold the words of the Savior: “If the light which is in you become darkness, behold how great is that darkness.”13 Look at the dissenters.14 Again, “If you were of the world the world would love its own.”15
* * *
Perhaps our brethren will say, because we thus write, that we are offended at these characters. If we are, it is not for a word, neither because they reproved in the gate16—but because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood.17 Are they not murderers then at heart?18 Are not their consciences seared as with a hot iron?19 We confess that we are offended; but the Savior said, “It must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto them by whom they come.”20 And again, “Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake; rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you.”21
Now, dear brethren, if any men ever had reason to claim this promise,22 we are the men; for we know that the world not only hate us,23 but they speak all manner of evil of us falsely,24 for no other reason than that we have been endeavoring to teach the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.25
After we were bartered away by Hinkle, and were taken into the militia camp, we had all the evidence we could have asked for that the world hated us.1 If there were priests among them of all the different sects, they hated us, and that most cordially too. If there were generals, they hated us; if there were colonels, they hated us; and the soldiers, and officers of every kind, hated us; and the most profane, blasphemous, and drunkards; and whoremongers,2 hated us—they all hated us, most cordially. And now what did they hate us for? Purely because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was it because we were liars? We know that it has been so reported by some, but it has been reported falsely. Was it because we have committed treason against the government in Daviess county, or burglary, or larceny, or arson, or any other unlawful act in Daviess county? We know that we have been so reported by priests, and certain lawyers, and certain judges, who are the instigators, aiders, and abettors of a certain gang of murderers and robbers, who have been carrying on a scheme of mobocracy to uphold their priestcraft,3 against the Saints of the last days;4 and for a number of yours have tried, by a well contemplated and premeditated scheme, to put down by physical power a system of religion that all the world, by their mutual attainments, and by any fair means whatever, were not able to resist.
Hence mobbers were encouraged by priests and Levites, by the Pharisees, by the Sadducees, and Essenes, and Herodians,5 and the most worthless, abandoned, and debauched, lawless, and inhuman, and the most beastly set of men that the earth can boast of—and indeed a parallel cannot be found anywhere else—to gather together to steal, to plunder, to starve, and to exterminate, and burn the houses of the “Mormons.”
These are characters that, by their treasonable and overt acts, have desolated and laid waste Daviess county. These are the characters that would fain make all the world believe that we are guilty of the above named acts. But they represent us falsely; we stood in our own defense, and we believe that no man of us acted only in a just, a lawful, and a righteous retaliation against such marauders.
We say unto you, that we have not committed treason, nor any other unlawful act in Daviess county. Was it for
murder in Ray county, against mob-militia; who was as a wolf in the first instance, hide and hair, teeth, legs and tail, who afterwards put on a militia sheep skin with the wool on; who could sally forth, in the day time, into the flock, and snarl and show his teeth, and scatter and devour the flock,1 and satiate himself upon his prey, and then sneak back into the bramble in order that he might conceal himself in his well tried skin with the wool on?
We are well aware that there is a certain set of priests and satellites, and mobbers that would fain make all the world believe that we were guilty of the doings of their howling wolf that made such havoc among the sheep, who, when he retreated, howled and bleated at such a desperate rate, that if one could have been there, he would have thought that all the wolves, whether wrapped up in sheep skins or in goat skins, or in some other skins, and in fine all the beasts of the forest, were awfully alarmed, and catching the scent of innocent blood, they sallied forth with one tremendous howl and crying of all sorts; and such a howling, and such a tremendous havoc2 never was known before; such inhumanity, and relentless cruelty and barbarity as were practiced against the Saints in Missouri can scarcely be found in the annals of history.
Now those characters if allowed to would make the world believe that we had committed murder, by making an attack upon this howling wolf, while the fact is we were at home and in our bed, and asleep, and knew nothing of that transaction any more than we know what is going on in China while we are within these walls. Therefore we say again unto you, we are innocent of these things, and they have represented us falsely.
Was it for committing adultery that we were assailed? We are aware that that false slander has gone abroad, for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegade “Mormon” dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports3 against us, thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world,4 because they know that we are not of the world, and that the world hates us;5 therefore they [the world] make a tool of these fellows [the dissenters]; and by them try to do all the injury they can, and after that they hate them worse than they do us, because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants.
Such characters God hates; we cannot love them. The world hates them, and we sometimes think that the devil ought to be ashamed of them.
We have heard that it is reported by some, that some of us should have said, that we not only dedicated our property, but our families also to the Lord;1 and Satan, taking advantage of this, has perverted it into licentiousness, such as a community of wives, which is an abomination in the sight of God.2
When we consecrate our property to the Lord3 it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy,4 for this is the law of God;5 it is not for the benefit of the rich, those who have no need; and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children, he does not give them to his brother, or to his neighbor, for these is no such law: for the law of God is, Thou shalt not commit adultery.6 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife.7 He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her, has committed adultery already in his heart.8 Now for a man to consecrate his property, wife and children, to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked,9 visit the widow and fatherless,10 the sick and afflicted,11 and do all he can to administer to their relief12 in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord.13 In order to do this, he and all his house must be virtuous, and must shun the very appearance of evil.14
Now if any person has represented anything otherwise than what we now write, he or she is a liar, and has represented us falsely—and this is another manner of evil which is spoken against us falsely.15
We have learned also since we have been prisoners, that many false and pernicious things, which were calculated to lead the Saints far astray and to do great injury, have been taught by Dr. Avard as coming from the Presidency, and we have reason to fear that many other designing and corrupt characters16 like unto himself, have been teaching many things which the Presidency never knew were being taught in the Church by anybody until after they were made prisoners. Had they known of such things they would have spurned them and their authors as they would the gates of hell.17 Thus we find that there have been frauds and secret abominations18 and evil works of darkness19 going on, leading the minds of the weak and unwary
into confusion and distraction, and all the time palming it off upon the Presidency, while the Presidency were ignorant as well as innocent of those things which those persons were practicing in the Church in their name. Meantime the Presidency were attending to their own secular and family concerns, weighed down with sorrow,1 in debt, in poverty, in hunger, essaying to be fed, yet finding [i.e., supporting] themselves. They occasionally received deeds of charity, it is true; but these were inadequate to their subsistence; and because they received those deeds, they were envied and hated by those who professed to be their friends.
But notwithstanding we thus speak, we honor the Church, when we speak of the Church as a Church, for their liberality, kindness, patience, and long-suffering,2 and their continual kindness towards us.
* * *
Again, if men sin wilfully after they have received the knowledge of the truth,3 there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation4 to come, which shall devour these adversaries.5 For he who despised Moses’ law6 died without mercy under two or three witnesses.7 Of how much more severe punishment suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath sold his brother, and ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath sold his brother, and denied the new and everlasting covenant by which he was sanctified, calling it an unholy thing, and doing despite to the Spirit of grace.8
And again we say unto you, that inasmuch as there is virtue in us, and the Holy Priesthood has been conferred upon us9—and the keys of the kingdom have not been taken from us,10 for verily thus saith the Lord, “Be of good cheer,11 for the keys that I gave unto you are yet with you”12—therefore we say unto you, dear brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver these characters unto the buffetings of Satan13 until the day of redemption,14 that they may be dealt with according to their works; and from henceforth their works shall be made manifest.15
And now dear and well beloved16 brethren—and when we say brethren, we mean those who have continued faithful17 in
Christ,1 men, women and children—we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus,2 to be strong in the faith3 in the new and everlasting covenant, and nothing frightened at your enemies. For what has happened unto us is an evident token to them of damnation; but unto us, of salvation, and that of God.4 Therefore hold on even unto death;5 for “he that seeks to save his life shall lose it; and he that loses hid life for my sake, and the Gospel’s, shall find it,”6 saith Jesus Christ.
Brethren, from henceforth, let truth and righteousness prevail and abound in you; and in all things be temperate;7 abstain from drunkenness, and from swearing, and from all profane language, and from everything which is unrighteous or unholy; also from enmity, and hatred, and covetousness, and from every unholy desire.8 Be honest one with another,9 for it seems that some have come short of these things, and some have been uncharitable, and have manifested greediness because of their debts towards those who have been persecuted and dragged about with chains without cause, and imprisoned. Such characters God hates—and they shall have their turn of sorrow in the rolling of the great wheel, for it rolleth and none can hinder. Zion shall yet live, though she seem to be dead.
Remember that whatsoever measure you mete out to others, it shall be measured to you again.10 We say unto you, brethren, be not afraid of your adversaries; contend earnestly against mobs, and the unlawful works of dissenters11 and of darkness.12
And the very God of peace13 shall be with you, and make a way for your escape14 from the adversary of souls.15 We commend you to God16 and the word of His grace,17 which is able to make us wise unto salvation.18 Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.—DHC 3:226-233.
To the Church of Latter-day Saints at Quincy, Illinois, and scattered abroad, and to Bishop Partridge in particular;a
aThe following important communication written by the Prophet and signed by all of his fellow prisoners, to the Church at large, and to Bishop Edward Partridge in particular, was written between the 20th and 25th of March. In the Prophet’s history as published many years ago in current issues of the Deseret News and Millennial Star the communication is divided
Your humble servant, Joseph Smith, Jun., prisoner for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake,1 and for the Saints, taken and held by the power of mobocracy, under the exterminating reign of his excellency, the governor, Lilburn W. Boggs, in company with his fellow prisoners and beloved brethren, Caleb Baldwin, Lyman Wight, Hyrum Smith, and Alexander McRae, send unto you all greeting. May the grace of God the Father, and of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,2 rest upon you all,3 and abide with you forever.4 May knowledge be multiplied unto you5 by the mercy of God.6 And may faith and virtue, and knowledge and temperance, and patience and godliness, and brotherly kindness and charity be in you and abound, that you may not be barren in anything, nor unfruitful.7
For inasmuch as we know that the most of you are well acquainted with the wrongs and the high-handed injustice and cruelty that are practiced upon us; whereas we have been taken prisoners charged falsely with every kind of evil, and thrown into prison, enclosed with strong walls,8 surrounded with a strong guard, who continually watch day and night as indefatigable as the devil does in tempting and laying snares9 for the people of God.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren,10 we are the more ready and willing to lay claim to your fellowship and love. For our circumstances are calculated to awaken our spirits to a sacred remembrance11 of everything, and we think that yours are also, and that nothing therefore can separate us from the love of God12 and fellowship one with another;13 and that every species of wickedness and cruelty practiced upon us will only tend to bind our hearts together and seal them together in love.14 We have no need to say to you that we are held in bonds15 without cause, neither is it needful that you say unto us, We are driven from
near the middle of it by reciting the few incidents happening between the 20th and 25th of March—the former being the date on which the letter was begun, the latter the date on which it was completed but in this publication it is thought desirable that the letter be given without this division, and hence it appears under the date on which it was completed, viz., the 25th of March, 1839. The parts of the communication enclosed in brackets were regarded of such special value that they were taken from this communication, and placed in the Doctrine and Covenants and comprise sections 121, 122 and 123 of that work.
our homes and smitten without cause.1 We mutually understand that if the inhabitants of the state of Missouri had let the Saints alone, and had been as desirable of peace as they were, there would have been nothing but peace and quietude in the state unto this day; we should not have been in this hell, surrounded with demons (if not those who are damned, they are those who shall be damned) and where we are compelled to hear nothing but blasphemous oaths, and witness a scene of blasphemy, and drunkenness and hypocrisy, and debaucheries of every description.
And again the cries of orphans and widows2 would not have ascended up to God against them. Nor would innocent blood have stained the soil of Missouri.3 But oh! the unrelenting hand! The inhumanity and murderous disposition of this people! It shocks all nature; it beggars and defies all description; it is a tale of woe; a lamentable tale; yea a sorrowful tale; too much to tell; too much for contemplation; too much for human beings; it cannot be found among the heathens; it cannot be found among the nations where kings and tyrants are enthroned; it cannot be found among the savages of the wilderness; yea, and I think it cannot be found among the wild and ferocious beasts of the forest—that a man should be mangled for sport! women be robbed of all that they have—their last morsel for subsistence, and then be violated to gratify the hellish desires4 of the mob, and finally left to perish with their helpless offspring clinging around their necks.
But this is not all. After a man is dead, he must be dug up from his grave and mangled to pieces, for no other purpose than to gratify their spleen against the religion of God.
They practice these things upon the Saints, who have done them no wrong, who are innocent and virtuous; who loved the Lord their God,5 and were willing to forsake all things for Christ’s sake.6 These things are awful to relate, but they are verily true. It must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto them by whom they come.7
[Oh God! where art Thou?8 And where is the pavilion that covereth Thy hiding place? How long shall9 Thy hand
be stayed, and Thine eye, yea Thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens, the wrongs of Thy people, and of Thy servants, and Thy ear be penetrated with their cries? Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer1 these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before Thine heart shall be softened towards them?
O Lord God Almighty, Maker of Heaven, Earth and Seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol! Stretch forth Thy hand, let Thine eye pierce; let Thy pavilion2 be taken up; let Thy hiding place3 no longer be covered; let Thine ear be inclined; let Thine heart be softened, and Thy bowels moved with compassion towards us; let Thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and in the fury of Thine heart, with Thy sword avenge4 us of our wrongs; remember Thy suffering Saints,5 O our God! and Thy servants will rejoice in Thy name forever.]6
Dearly and beloved brethren,7 we see that perilous times8 have come, as was testified of. We may look, then, with most perfect assurance, for the fulfillment of all those things that have been written, and with more confidence than ever before, lift up our eyes9 to the luminary of day, and say in our hearts, Soon thou wilt veil thy blushing face. He that said “Let there be Light,”10 and there was light, hath spoken this word. And again, Thou moon, thou dimmer light, thou luminary of night, shalt turn to blood.11
We see that everything is being fulfilled; and that the time shall soon come when the Son of Man shall descend in the clouds of heaven.12 Our hearts do not shrink, neither are our spirits altogether broken by the grievous yoke13 which is put upon us. We know that God will have our oppressors in derision;14 that He will laugh at their calamity, and mock when their fear cometh.15
O that we could be with you, brethren, and unbosom our feelings to you! We would tell, that we should have been liberated at the time Elder Rigdon was, on the writ of habeas corpus, had not our own lawyers interpreted the law, contrary
to what it reads, against us; which prevented us from introducing our evidence before the mock court.
They have done us much harm from the beginning. They have of late acknowledged that the law was misconstrued, and tantalized our feelings with it, and have entirely forsaken us, and have forfeited their oaths and their bonds; and we have a come-back on them, for they are co-workers with the mob.
As nigh as we can learn, the public mind has been for a long time turning in our favor, and the majority in now friendly; and the lawyers can no longer browbeat us by saying that this or that is a matter of public opinion, for public opinion is not willing to brook it; for it is beginning to look with feelings of indignation against our oppressors, and to say that the “Mormons” were not in the fault in the least. We think that truth, honor, virtue and innocence will eventually come out triumphant. We should have taken a habeas corpus before the high judge and escaped the mob in a summary way; but unfortunately for us, the timber of the wall being very hard, our auger handles gave out, and hindered us longer than we expected; we applied to a friend, and a very slight incautious act gave rise to some suspicions, and before we could fully succeed, our plan was discovered; we had everything in readiness, but the last stone, and we could have made our escape in one minute, and should have succeeded admirably, had it not been for a little imprudence or over-anxiety on the part of our friend.
The sheriff and jailer did not blame us for our attempt; it was a fine breach, and cost the county a round sum; but public opinion says that we ought to have been permitted to have made our escape; that then the disgrace would have been on us, but now it must come on the state; that there cannot be any charge sustained against us; and that the conduct of the mob, the murders committed at Haun’s Mills, and the exterminating order of the governor, and the one-sided, rascally proceedings of the legislature, have damned the state of Missouri to all eternity.1 I would just name also that General Atchison has proved himself as contemptible as any of them.
We have tried for a long time to get our lawyers to draw us some petitions to the supreme judges of this state, but they
utterly refused. We have examined the law, and drawn the petitions ourselves, and have obtained abundance of proof to counteract all the testimony that was against us, so that if the supreme judge does not grant us our liberty, he has to act without cause,1 contrary to honor, evidence, law or justice, sheerly to please the devil,2 but we hope better things and trust before many days God will so order our case, that we shall be set at liberty and take up our habitation with the Saints.
We received some letters last evening—one from Emma, one from Don C. Smith, and one from Bishop Partridge—all breathing a kind and consoling spirit.3 We were much gratified with their contents. We had been a long time without information; and when we read those letters they were to our souls as the gentle air is refreshing, but our joy was mingled with grief, because of the sufferings of the poor4 and much injured Saints. And we need not say to you that the floodgates of our hearts were lifted and our eyes were a fountain of tears,5 but those who have not been enclosed in the walls of prison without cause or provocation, can have but little idea how sweet the voice of a friend is;6 one token of friendship from any source whatever awakens and calls into action every sympathetic feeling; it brings up in an instant everything that is passed; it seizes the present with the avidity of lightning; it grasps after the future with the fierceness of a tiger; it moves the mind backward and forward, from one thing to another, until finally all enmity, malice and hatred, and past differences, misunderstandings and mismanagements are slain victorious at the feet of hope; and when the heart is sufficiently contrite, then the voice of inspiration steals along and whispers—
[My son,7 peace be unto thy soul;8 thine adversity and thine afflictions9 shall be but a small moment;10 and then if thou endure it well,11 God shall exalt thee12 on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes;13 thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again, with warm hearts and friendly hands; thou art not yet as Job; thy friends do not contend against thee, neither charge thee with transgression, as they did Job;14 and they who do charge thee with transgression, their hope shall be blasted
and their prospects shall melt away as the hoar frost1 melteth before the burning rays of the rising sun; and also that God hath set His hand and seal to change the times and seasons,2 and to blind their minds, that they may not understand3 His marvelous workings, that He may prove them also4 and take them in their own craftiness; also because their hearts are corrupted,5 and the things which they are willing to bring upon others, and love to have others suffer, may come upon themselves6 to the very uttermost; that they may be disappointed also; and their hopes may be cut off;7 and not many years hence, that they and their posterity shall be swept from under heaven, saith God, that not one of them is left to stand by the wall.8 Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel9 against mine anointed,10 saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes,11 and which I commanded them; but those who cry transgression12 do it because they are the servants of sin13 and are the children of disobedience14 themselves; and those who swear falsely15 against my servants, that they might bring them into bondage and death; wo unto them; because they have offended my little ones;16 they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house; their basket shall not be full,17 and their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them; they shall not have right to the Priesthood,18 nor their posterity after them, from generation to generation; it had been better for them that a millstone had been hanged about their necks, and they drowned in the depth of the sea.19
Wo unto all those that discomfort my people,20 and drive and murder, and testify against them, saith the Lord of Hosts; a generation of vipers shall not escape the damnation of hell.21 Behold mine eyes see and know all their works,22 and I have in reserve a swift judgment23 in the season thereof, for them all; for there is a time appointed24 for every man according as his work shall be.]25
And now, beloved brethren, we say unto you, that inasmuch as God hath said that He would have a tried people,26 that He would purge them as gold,27 now we think that this time He has chosen His own crucible, wherein we have been tried;
and we think if we get through with any degree of safety, and shall have kept the faith,1 that it will be a sign to this generation, altogether sufficient to leave them without excuse;2 and we think also, it will be a trial of our faith3 equal to that of Abraham,4 and that the ancients will not have whereof to boast over us in the day of judgment, as being called to pass through heavier afflictions; that we may hold an even weight in the balance with them; but now, after having suffered so great sacrifice and having passed through so great a season of sorrow, we trust that a ram may be caught in the thicket5 speedily, to relieve the sons and daughters of Abraham from their great anxiety, and to light up the lamp of salvation6 upon their countenances, that they may hold on now, after having gone so far unto everlasting life.
Now, brethren, concerning the places for the location of the Saints, we cannot counsel you as we could if we were present with you; and as to the things that were written heretofore, we did not consider them anything very binding, therefore we now say once for all, that we think it most proper that the general affairs of the Church, which are necessary to be considered, while your humble servant remains in bondage, should be transacted by a general conference of the most faithful and the most respectable of the authorities of the Church, and a minute of those transactions may be kept, and forwarded from time to time, to your humble servant; and if there should be any corrections by the word of the Lord,7 they shall be freely transmitted, and your humble servant will approve all things whatsoever is acceptable unto God.8 If anything should have been suggested by us, or any names mentioned, except by commandment, or thus saith the Lord,9 we do not consider it binding; therefore our hearts shall not be grieved if different arrangements should be entered into. Nevertheless we would suggest the propriety of being aware of an aspiring spirit,10 which spirit has oftentimes urged men forward to make foul speeches, and influence the Church to reject milder counsels, and has eventually been the means of bringing much death and sorrow upon the Church.
We would say, beware of pride also; for well and truly hath the wise man said, that pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.1 And again, outward appearance2 is not always a criterion by which to judge our fellow man;3 but the lips betray the haughty and overbearing imaginations of the heart; by his words and his deeds4 let him be judged. Flattery is also a deadly poison.5 A frank and open rebuke6 provoketh a good man to emulation;7 and in the hour of trouble he will be your best friend; but on the other hand, it will draw out all the corruptions of corrupt hearts,8 and lying and the poison of asps is under their tongues;9 and they do cause the pure in heart10 to be cast into prison, because they want them out of their way.
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep import;11 and time, and experience, and careful12 and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation,13 must stretch as high as the utmost heavens,14 and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss,15 and the broad expanse of eternity16—thou must commune with God.17 How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God,18 than the vain imaginations of the human heart!19 None but fools will trifle with the souls of men.
How vain and trifling have been our spirits, our conferences, our councils, our meetings, our private as well as public conversations—too low, too mean, too vulgar, too condescending for the dignified characters of the called and chosen20 of God, according to the purposes of His will,21 from before the foundation of the world!22 We are called to hold the keys of the mysteries23 of those things that have been kept hid from the foundation of the world24 until now. Some have tasted a little of these things, many of which are to be poured down from heaven upon the heads25 of babes;26 yea, upon the weak, obscure and despised ones of the earth.27 Therefore we beseech of you, brethren, that you bear with those who do not feel themselves more worthy than yourselves, while we exhort one another to a reformation with one and all, both old and young, teachers and taught, both high and low, rich and poor, bond and free, male and female;28 let honesty, and sobriety, and candor, and solemnity, and virtue, and pureness, and meekness, and sim-
plicity crown our heads in every place; and in fine, become as little children,1 without malice, guile or hypocrisy.2
And now, brethren, after your tribulations, if you do these things, and exercise fervent prayer3 and faith in the sight of God4 always, [He shall give unto you knowledge by His Holy Spirit,5 yea by the unspeakable gift6 of the Holy Ghost, that has not been revealed since the world was until now;7 which our forefathers have waited with anxious expectation to be revealed in the last times, which their minds were pointed to by the angels, as held in reserve for the fullness of their glory; a time to come in which nothing shall be withheld,8 whether there be one God or many Gods,9 they shall be manifest; all thrones and dominions, principalities and powers,10 shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly11 for the Gospel of Jesus Christ; and also if there be bounds set to the heavens,12 or to the seas; or to the dry land,13 or to the sun, moon or stars; all the times of their revolutions;14 all the appointed days, months and years, and all the days of their days, months and years, and all their glories, laws, and set times,15 shall be revealed, in the days of the dispensation of the fullness of times,16 according to that which was ordained in the midst of the Council of the Eternal God of all other Gods, before this world was,17 that should be reserved unto the finishing and the end thereof, when every man shall enter into His eternal presence, and into His immortal rest18].19
But I beg leave to say unto you, brethren, that ignorance, superstition and bigotry placing itself where it ought not, is oftentimes in the way of the prosperity of this Church; like the torrent of rain from the mountains, that floods the most pure and crystal stream with mire, and dirt,20 and filthiness, and obscures everything that was clear before, and all rushes along in one general deluge; but time weathers tide; and notwithstanding we are rolled in the mire of the flood for the time bring, the next surge peradventure, as time rolls on, may bring to us the fountain as clear as crystal,21 and as pure as snow;22 while the filthiness, flood-wood and rubbish is left and purged out by the way.
[How long can rolling water remain impure? What power shall stay the heavens?1 As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down2 knowledge from heaven,3 upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints].4
What is Boggs or his murderous party, but wimbling willows upon the shore to catch the flood-wood? As well might we argue that water is not water, because the mountain torrents send down mire and roil the crystal stream, although afterwards render it more pure than before; or that fire is not fire, because it is of a quenchable nature, by pouring on the flood; as to say that our cause is down because renegades, liars, priests, thieves and murderers, who are all alike tenacious of their crafts and creeds,5 have poured down, from their spiritual wickedness in high places,6 and from their strongholds of the devil, a flood of dirt and mire and filthiness and vomit upon our heads.
No! God forbid. Hell may pour forth its rage like the burning lava of Mount Vesuvius, or of Etna, or of the most terrible of the burning mountains; and yet shall “Mormonism” stand. Water, fire, truth and God are all realities. Truth is “Mormonism.” God is the author7 of it. He is our shield.8 It is by Him we received our birth. It was by His voice that we were called to a dispensation of His Gospel9 in the beginning of the fullness of times. It was by Him we received the Book of Mormon;10 and it is by Him that we remain unto this day; and by Him we shall remain, if it shall be for our glory; and in His Almighty name11 we are determined to endure tribulation12 as good soldiers13 unto the end.
But brethren, we shall continue to offer further reflections in our next epistle. You will learn by the time you have read this, and if you do not learn it, you may learn it, that walls and irons, doors and creaking hinges, and half-scared-to-death guards and jailers, grinning like some damned spirits, lest an innocent man should make his escape to bring to light the damnable deeds14 of a murderous mob, are calculated in their very nature to make the soul of an honest man feel stronger than the powers of hell.15
But we must bring our epistle to a close. We send our
respects to fathers, mothers, wives and children, brothers and sisters; we hold them in the most sacred remembrance.1
We feel to inquire after Elder Rigdon; if he has not forgotten us, it has not been signified to us by his writing. Brother George W. Robinson also; and Elder Cahoon, we remember him, but would like to jog his memory a little on the fable of the bear and the two friends who mutually agreed to stand by each other. And perhaps it would not be amiss to mention uncle John [Smith], and various others. A word of consolation and a blessing would not come amiss from anybody, while we are being so closely whispered by the bear. But we feel to excuse everybody and everything, yea the more readily when we contemplate that we are in the hands of persons worse than a bear, for the bear would not prey upon a dead carcass.
Our respects and love and fellowship to all the virtuous Saints. We are your brethren and fellow-sufferers, and prisoners of Jesus Christ2 for the Gospel’s sake,3 and for the hope of glory4 which is in us. Amen.
We continue to offer further reflections to Bishop Partridge, and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whom we love with a fervent love, and do always bear them in mind in all our prayers to the throne of God.5
It still seems to bear heavily on our minds that the Church would do well to secure to themselves the contract of the land which is proposed to them by Mr. Isaac Galland,6 and to cultivate the friendly feelings of that gentleman, inasmuch as he shall prove himself to be a man of honor and a friend to humanity; also Isaac Van Allen, Esq., the attorney-general of Iowa Territory, and Governor Lucas, that peradventure such men may be wrought upon by the providence of God,7 to do good unto His people. We really think that Mr. Galland’s letter breathes that kind of a spirit, if we may judge correctly. Governor Lucas’ also. We suggest the idea of praying fervently8 for all men who manifest any degree of sympathy for the suffering children of God.9
We think that the United States Surveyor of the Iowa Territory may be of great benefit to the Church, if it be the will of God to this end; and righteousness should be manifested as the girdle of our loins.10
It seems to be deeply impressed upon our minds that the Saints ought to lay hold1 of every door that shall seem to be opened unto them, to obtain foothold on the earth, and be making all the preparation that is within their power for the terrible storms that are now gathering in the heavens, “a day of clouds, with darkness and gloominess, and of thick darkness,”2 as spoken of by the Prophets which cannot be now of a long time lingering, for there seems to be a whispering that the angels of heaven who have been entrusted with the counsel of these matters for the last days, have taken counsel together;3 and among the rest of the general affairs that have to be transacted in their honorable council, they have taken cognizance of the testimony of those who were murdered at Haun’s Mills, and also those who were martyred with David W. Patten,4 and elsewhere, and have passed some decisions peradventure in favor of the Saints, and those who were called to suffer without cause.5
These decisions will be made known in their time; and the council will take into consideration all those things that offend.6
We have a fervent desire that in your general conferences everything should be discussed with a great deal of care and propriety, lest you grieve the Holy Spirit,7 which shall be poured out at all times upon your heads,8 when you are exercised with those principles of righteousness9 that are agreeable to the mind of God,10 and are properly affected one toward another, and are careful by all means to remember, those who are in bondage,11 and in heaviness, and in deep affliction for your sakes. And if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the Holy Spirit, which maketh intercession for us day and night with groanings that cannot be uttered.12
We ought at all times to be very careful that such highmindedness shall never have place in our hearts; but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak.13
[Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen.1 And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world,2 and aspire to the honors of men,3 that they do not learn this one lesson—that the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins,4 or to gratify our pride,5 our vain ambition,6 or to exercise control,7 or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved;8 and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the Priesthood, or the authority of that man. Behold! ere he is aware, he is left unto himself,9 to kick against the pricks;10 to persecute the Saints,11 and to fight against God.12
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.13
No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering,14 by gentleness, and meekness, and by love unfeigned;15 by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy,16 and without guile,17 reproving betimes with sharpness,18 when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,19 and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death; let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men,20 and to the household of faith,21 and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly,22 then shall thy confidence wax strong23 in the presence of God, and the doctrine of the Priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.24 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy sceptre an unchanging sceptre of righteousness25 and truth, and thy dominion shall
be an everlasting dominion,1 and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.]2
[The ends of the earth shall inquire after thy name, and fools shall have thee in derision, and hell shall rage against thee, while the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous, shall seek counsel,3 and authority and blessings constantly from under thy hand, and thy people shall never be turned against thee by the testimony of traitors; and although their influence shall cast thee into trouble, and into bars and walls, thou shalt be had in honor, and but for a small moment and thy voice shall be more terrible in the midst of thine enemies, than the fierce lion,4 because of thy righteousness; and thy God shall stand by thee forever and ever.
If thou art called to pass through tribulations; if thou art in perils among false brethren;5 if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea; if thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves6 for the blood of the lamb; and if thou shouldest be cast into the pit,7 or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee;8 if thou be cast into the deep,9 if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy;10 if the heavens gather blackness,11 and all the elements combine to hedge up the way;12 and above all, if the very jaws of hell13 shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.14 The Son of Man hath descended below them all;15 art thou greater than he?16
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the Priesthood shall remain with thee, for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy
days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you1 forever and ever.]2
Now, brethren, I would suggest for the consideration of the conference, its being carefully and wisely understood by the council or conferences that our brethren scattered abroad,3 who understood the spirit of the gathering,4 that they fall into the places and refuge of safety5 that God shall open unto them, between Kirtland and Far West. Those from the east and from the west, and from far countries,6 let them fall in somewhere between those two boundaries, in the most safe and quiet places they can find; and let this be the present understanding, until God shall open a more effectual door7 for us for further considerations.
And again, we further suggest for the considerations of the Council, that there be no organization of large bodies upon common stock principles, in property, or of large companies of firms, until the Lord shall signify it in a proper manner, as it opens such a dreadful field for the avaricious, the indolent, and the corrupt hearted to prey upon the innocent and virtuous, and honest.
We have reason to believe that many things were introduced among the Saints before God had signified the times; and notwithstanding the principles and plans may have been good, yet aspiring men, or in other words, men who had not the substance of godliness8 about them, perhaps undertook to handle edged tools. Children, you know, are fond of tools, while they are not yet able to use them.
Time and experience, however, are the only safe remedies against such evils. There are many teachers, but, perhaps, not many fathers.9 There are times coming when God will signify10 many things which are expedient for the well-being of the Saints; but the times have not yet come, but will come, as fast as there can be found place and reception for them.
[And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the Saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts and sufferings and abuses put upon them by the people of this state; and also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal
injuries, as well as real property; and also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out; and perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements, and affidavits, and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat, and all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopaedias, and all the libelous histories that are published, and are writing, and by whom, and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality, and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practiced upon this people, that we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of government in all their dark and hellish hue, as the last effort which is enjoined on us by our Heavenly Father, before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call Him forth from His hiding place,1 and also that the whole nation may be left without excuse2 before He can send forth the power of His mighty arm.
It is an imperative duty that we owe to God, to angels, with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives and children, who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care, under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppressions, supported and urged on and upheld by the influence of that spirit which has so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers,3 who have inherited lies,4 upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very main-spring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity.
It is an iron yoke,5 it is a strong band; they are the very hand-cuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.6
Therefore it is an imperative duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand; which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very devil to tremble and palsy. And also it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart, (for there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, denominations, who are blinded by the subtle
craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive,1 and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it); therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven.
These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity,2 pertaining to the Saints, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much be a very small helm3 in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power,4 and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God,5 and for His arm to be revealed.6]7
And again, I would further suggest the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant or oaths,8 by penalties or secrecies; but let the time past of our experience and sufferings by the wickedness of Doctor Avard suffice and let our covenant be that of the Everlasting Covenant,9 as is contained in the Holy Writ10 and the things that God hath revealed unto us. Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy.
Your humble servant or servants, intend from henceforth to disapprobate everything that is not in accordance with the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and is not of a bold, and frank, and upright nature. They will not hold their peace11—as in times past when they see iniquity beginning to rear its head—for fear of traitors, or the consequences that shall follow by reproving those who creep in unawares,12 that they may get something with which to destroy the flock.13 We believe that the experience of the Saints in times past has been sufficient, that they will from henceforth be always ready to obey the truth without having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.14 It is expedient that we should be aware of such things; and we ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangely present themselves, and are so congenial
to human nature, against our friends, neighbors, and brethren of the world, who choose to differ from us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religion is between us and our God. Their religion is between them and their God.
There is a love from God that should be exercised toward those of our faith, who walk uprightly, which is peculiar to itself, but it is without prejudice;1 it also gives scope to the mind, which enables us to conduct ourselves with greater liberality towards all that are not of our faith,2 than what they exercise towards one another. These principles approximate nearer to the mind of God, because it is like God, or Godlike.
Here is a principle also, which we are bound to be exercised with, that is, in common with all men, such as governments, and laws, and regulations in the civil concerns of life. This principle guarantees to all parties, sects, and denominations, and classes of religion, equal, coherent, and indefeasible rights; they are things that pertain to this life; therefore all are alike interested; they make our responsibilities one towards another in matters of corruptible things, while the former principles do not destroy the latter, but bind us stronger, and make our responsibilities not only one to another, but unto God also. Hence we say, that the Constitution of the United States3 is a glorious standard; it is founded in the wisdom of God.4 It is a heavenly banner; it is to all those who are privileged with the sweets of liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land.5 It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of the sun.6
We, brethren, are deprived of the protection of its glorious principles, by the cruelty of the cruel, by those who only look for the time being, for pasturage like the beasts of the field, only to fill themselves; and forget that the “Mormons,” as well as the Presbyterians, and those of every other class and description, have equal rights to partake of the fruits of the great tree of our national liberty. But notwithstanding we see what we see, and feel what we feel, and know what we know, yet that fruit is no less precious and delicious to our taste; we cannot be weaned from the milk, neither can we be driven from the breast;
neither will we deny our religion because of the hand of oppression;1 but we will hold on until death.
We say that God is true;2 that the Constitution of the United States is true; that the Bible is true; that the Book of Mormon is true; that the Book of Covenants is true; that Christ is true; that the ministering angels sent forth from God3 are true, and that we know that we have an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens,4 whose builder and maker is God;5 a consolation which our oppressors cannot feel, when fortune, or fate, shall lay its iron hand6 on them as it has on us. Now, we ask, what is man?7 Remember, brethren, that time and chance happen to all men.8
We shall continue our reflections in our next.
We subscribe ourselves, your sincere friends and brethren in the bonds of the everlasting Gospel, prisoners of Jesus Christ,9 for the sake of the Gospel and the Saints.
We pronounce the blessings of heaven10 upon the heads of the Saints who seek to serve God with undivided hearts, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,
Faith comes by hearing the word of God,11 through the testimony of the servants of God;12 that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation.13
Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance14 is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God.15
Baptism is a holy ordinance preparatory16 to the reception of the Holy Ghost;17 it is the channel and key by which the Holy Ghost will be administered.
The Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands,18 cannot be received through the medium of any other principle than the principle of righteousness,19 for if the proposals are not complied with, it is of no use, but withdraws.
Tongues were given for the purpose of preaching among
those whose language is not understood; as on the day of Pentecost,1 etc., and it is not necessary for tongues to be taught to the Church particularly,2 for any man that has the Holy Ghost, can speak of the things of God in his own tongue as well as to speak in another; for faith comes not by signs,3 but by hearing the word of God.4
The Doctrines of the Resurrection of the Dead and the Eternal Judgment5 are necessary to preach among the first principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.6
The Doctrine of Election. Peter exhorts us to make our calling and election sure.7 This is the sealing power spoken of by Paul in other places.8
“13. In whom ye also trusted, that after ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
“14. Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory, that we may be sealed up unto the day of redemption.” —Ephesians, 1st chapter.9
This principle ought (in its proper place) to be taught, for God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint10 may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest.11 How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power,12 and the other Comforter13 spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation.14
There are two Comforters spoken of. One is the Holy Ghost,15 the same as given on the day of Pentecost,16 and that all Saints receive after faith, repentance, and baptism.17 This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding,18 and storing the intellect with present knowledge,19 of a man who is of the literal seed of Abraham,20 than one that is a Gentile, though it may not have half as much visible effect upon the body; for as the Holy Ghost falls upon21 one of
the literal seed of Abraham,1 it is calm and serene; and his whole soul2 and body are only exercised by the pure spirit of intelligence; while the effect of the Holy Ghost upon a Gentile, is to purge out the old blood,3 and make him actually of the seed of Abraham.4 That man that has none of the blood of Abraham (naturally) must have a new creation by the Holy Ghost. In such a case, there may be more of a powerful effect upon the body, and visible to the eye, than upon an Israelite, while the Israelite at first might be far before the Gentile in pure intelligence.
The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue5 to humble himself before God,6 hungering and thirsting after righteousness,7 and living by every word of God,8 and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted.9 When the Lord has thoroughly proved him,10 and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure,11 then it will be his privilege to receive the other Comforter,12 which the Lord hath promised the Saints, as is recorded in the testimony of St. John, in the 14th chapter, from the 12th to the 27th verses.13
Note the 16, 17, 18, 21, 23 verses:
“16. And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;
“17. Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
“18. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. * *
“21. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
“23. If a man love me, he will keep my word: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”14
Now what is this other Comforter? It is no more nor less
than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and this is the sum and substance of the whole matter;1 that when any man obtains this last Comforter, he will have the personage of Jesus Christ to attend him, or appear unto him2 from time to time,3 and even He will manifest the Father unto him,4 and they will take up their abode with him,5 and the visions of the heavens will be opened6 unto him, and the Lord will teach him face to face,7 and he may have a perfect knowledge of the mysteries8 of the Kingdom of God; and this is the state and place the ancient Saints arrived at when they had such glorious visions—Isaiah,9 Ezekiel,10 John upon the Isle of Patmos,11 St. Paul in the three heavens,12 and all the Saints who held communion with the general assembly13 and Church of the Firstborn.14
The Spirit of Revelation15 is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God,16 will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.17
An Evangelist is a Patriarch,18 even the oldest man of the blood of Joseph or of the seed of Abraham.19 Wherever the Church of Christ20 is established in the earth, there should be a Patriarch for the benefit of the posterity of the Saints, as it was with Jacob in giving his patriarchal blessing unto his sons,21 etc. (June 27, 1839.) DHC 3:379-381.
In the afternoon of Monday, July 2, 1839, the Prophet met with the Apostles and some of the Seventies who were about to depart on their mission to Great Britain in fulfilment of the revelation of the Lord, and instructed them. A synopsis of his remarks he placed in his journal and this is here reproduced in full as they are given in the History of the Church.
Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother1 on the first intimations of repentance, and asking forgiveness;2 and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy,3 before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us.4
Again, let the Twelve and all Saints be willing to confess all their sins,5 and not keep back a part;6 and let the Twelve be humble,7 and not be exalted,8 and beware of pride,9 and not seek to excel10 one above another, but act for each other’s good, and pray for one another,11 and honor our brother or make honorable mention of his name,12 and not backbite13 and devour our brother.14 Why will not man learn wisdom15 by precept16 at this late age of the world, when we have such a cloud of witnesses17 and examples before us, and not be obliged to learn by sad experience18 everything we know. Must the new ones that are chosen to fill the places of those that are fallen, of the quorum of the Twelve, begin to exalt themselves,19 until they exalt themselves so high that they will soon tumble over and have a great fall,20 and go wallowing through the mud and mire21 and darkness, Judas-like, to the buffetings of Satan,22 as several of the quorum have done, or will they learn wisdom23 and be wise?24 O God! give them wisdom,25 and keep them humble,26 I pray.
When the Twelve or any other witnesses stand before the congregations of the earth, and they preach in the power27 and demonstration of the Spirit of God,28 and the people are astonished and confounded at the doctrine,29 and say, “That man has preached a powerful discourse, a great sermon,” then let
that man or those men take care that they do not ascribe the glory unto themselves,1 but be careful that they are humble, and ascribe the praise and glory to God2 and the Lamb;3 for it is by the power of the Holy Priesthood and the Holy Ghost that they have power thus to speak.4 What art thou, O man, but dust?5 And from whom receivest thou thy power and blessings, but from God?
Then, O ye Twelve! notice this Key, and be wise for Christ’s sake,6 and your own soul’s sake. Ye are not sent out to be taught, but to teach.7 Let every word be seasoned with grace.8 Be vigilant; be sober.9 It is a day of warning, and not of many words.10 Act honestly11 before God and man. Beware of Gentile sophistry;12 such as bowing and scraping unto men in whom you have no confidence. Be honest,13 open, and frank in all your intercourse with mankind.
O ye Twelve! and all Saints! profit by this important Key—that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonments14 and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven;15 that you do not betray Jesus Christ;16 that you do not betray the brethren;17 that you do not betray the revelations18 of God, whether in the Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come. Yea, in all your kicking and flounderings, see to it that you do not this thing, lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts,19 and you go down to hell.20 All other sins are not to be compared to sinning against the Holy Ghost,21 and proving a traitor to the brethren.22
I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom.23 It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity:24 That man who rises up to condemn others,25 finding fault26 with the Church, saying that they are out of the way,27 while he himself is righteous,28 then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not
repent, will apostatize, as God lives. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person;1 and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven;2 for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.3
The Priesthood was first given to Adam;4 he obtained the First Presidency,5 and held the keys of it from generation to generation.6 He obtained it in the Creation, before the world was formed,7 as in Genesis 1:26, 27, 28.8 He had dominion given him over every living creature.9 He is Michael the Archangel,10 spoken of in the Scriptures. Then to Noah, who is Gabriel:11 he stands next in authority to Adam in the Priesthood; he was called of God12 to this office, and was the father of all living13 in his day, and to him was given the dominion. These men held keys first on earth, and then in heaven.14
The Priesthood is an everlasting principle,15 and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.16 The keys have to be brought from heaven whenever the Gospel is sent. When they are revealed from heaven,17 it is by Adam’s authority.
Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days;18 he means the oldest man, our Father Adam,19 Michael,20 he will call his children together and hold a council21 with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man.22 He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him,23 and there is given him glory and dominion.24 Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.25
The spirit of man is not a created being;1,a it existed from eternity, and will exist to eternity. Anything created cannot be eternal; and earth, water, etc., had their existence in an elementary state, from eternity. Our Savior speaks of children and says, Their angels always stand before my Father.2 The Father called all spirits before Him at the creation of man, and organized them.3 He (Adam) is the head,4 and was told to multiply.5 The keys were first given to him,6 and by him to others. He will have to give an account of his stewardship,7 and they to him.
The Priesthood is everlasting.8 The Savior, Moses, and Elias, gave the keys to Peter, James and John, on the mount,9 when there were transfigured10 before him. The Priesthood is everlasting—without beginning of days or end of years;11 without father, mother,12 etc. If there is no change of ordinances,13 there is no change of Priesthood.14 Wherever the ordinances of the Gospel are administered,15 there is the Priesthood.
How have we come at the Priesthood in the last days? It came down, down, in regular succession. Peter, James, and John had it given to them16 and they gave it to others.17 Christ is the Great High Priest;18 Adam next.19 Paul speaks of the Church coming to an innumerable company of angels20—to God the Judge of all—the spirits of just men made perfect; to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant. (Hebrews 12:22-24.)21
I saw Adam in the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman.22 He called together his children and blessed them with a patriarchal blessing.23 The Lord appeared in their midst, and he (Adam) blessed them all, and foretold what should befall them to the latest generation.24
aIn saying the spirit of man is not created the Prophet without any doubt had in mind the intelligence as explained in the Doctrine and Covenants, Sec. 93:29: “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.” From this we gather that the intelligence in man was not created, but the Prophet taught very clearly that man is in very deed the offspring of God, and that the spirits of men were born in the spirit world the children of God. See Doctrine and Covenants 76:24.
This is why Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God.1 They looked for a city, etc., “whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10.)2 Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God,3 through the power of the Priesthood,4 but he could not. In the first ages of the world5 they tried to establish the same thing; and there were Eliases6 raised up who tried to restore these very glories, but did not obtain them; but they prophesied of a day when this glory would be revealed.7 Paul spoke of the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God would gather together all things in one,8 etc.; and those men to whom these keys have been given, will have to be there; and they without us cannot be made perfect.9
These men are in heaven, but their children are on the earth. Their bowels yearn10 over us. God sends down men for this reason. “And the Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that give offense and them that do iniquity.” (Matthew 13:41.)11 All these authoritative characters will come down and join hand in hand in bringing about this work.12
The Kingdom of Heaven is like a grain of mustard seed.13 The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches. The fowls are the angels. Thus angels14 come down, combine together to gather their children, and gather them. We cannot be made perfect without them, nor they without us;15 when these things are done, the Son of Man will descend,16 the Ancient of Days sit;17 we may come to an innumerable company of angels,18 have communion with and receive instruction from them. Paul told about Moses’ proceedings; spoke of the children of Israel being baptized. (1 Cor. 10:1-4.)19 He knew this, and that all the ordinances and blessings were in the Church. Paul had these things, and we may have the fowls of heaven lodge in the branches,20 etc.
The “Horn” made war with the Saints and overcame them, until the Ancient of Days came; judgment was given to the Saints of the Most High from the Ancient of Days; the time came that the Saints possessed the Kingdom.21 This not only makes us ministers22 here, but in eternity.
Salvation cannot come without revelation;1 it is in vain for anyone to minister without it. No man is a minister of Jesus Christ2 without being a Prophet. No man can be a minister of Jesus Christ except he has the testimony of Jesus; and this is the spirit of prophecy.3 Whenever salvation has been administered, it has been by testimony.4 Men of the present time testify of heaven and hell, and have never seen5 either; and I will say that no man knows these things6 without this.
Men profess to prophesy. I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man7 are already commenced. One pestilence will desolate8 after another. We shall soon have war and bloodshed.9 The moon will be turned to blood.10 I testify of these things, and that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh, even at your doors.11 If our souls and our bodies are not looking forth for the coming12 of the Son of Man; and after we are dead, if we are not looking forth, we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon them.13
The hearts of the children of men will have to be turned to the fathers, and the fathers to the children,14 living or dead,15 to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. If Elijah did not come, the whole earth would be smitten.
There will be here and there a Stake [of Zion] for the gathering of the Saints.16 Some may have cried peace,17 but the Saints and the world will have little peace18 from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stakes; for God has told us to flee,19 not dallying, or we shall be scattered,20 one here, and another there. There your children shall be blessed, and you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. The Gospel net gathers of every kind.21
I prophesy, that that man who tarries22 after he has an opportunity of going, will be afflicted by the devil. Wars are at hand;23 we must not delay; but are not required to sacrifice. We ought to have the building up of Zion24 as our greatest object. When wars come, we shall have to flee to Zion.25 The cry is to make haste.26 The last revelation says, Ye shall not
have time to have gone over the earth, until these things come. It will come as did the cholera, war, fires, and earthquakes;1 one pestilence after another, until the Ancient of Days comes, then judgment will be given to the Saints.2
Whatever you may hear about me or Kirtland, take no notice of it; for if it be a place of refuge,3 the devil will use his greatest efforts to trap the Saints. You must make yourselves acquainted with those men who like Daniel pray three times a day toward the House of the Lord.4 Look to the Presidency and receive instruction. Every man who is afraid, covetous, will be taken in a snare.5 The time is soon coming, when no man will have any peace but in Zion6 and her stakes.7
I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers.8 I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires.9 The Son of Man has said that the mother shall be against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother.10 These things are at our doors.11 They will follow the Saints of God12 from city to city.13 Satan will rage,14 and the spirit of the devil15 is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place; but with a view of them, shall I cry peace?16 No; I will lift up my voice17 and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know; when the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand.18
We may look for angels and receive their ministrations,19 but we are to try the spirits20 and prove them, for it is often the case that men make a mistake in regard to these things. God has so ordained that when He has communicated, no vision is to be taken but what you see by the seeing of the eye, or what you hear by the hearing of the ear.21 When you see a vision, pray for the interpretation;22 if you get not this, shut it up;23 there must be certainty in this matter. An open vision24 will manifest that which is more important. Lying spirits are going forth in the earth.25 There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false26 and true.
Being born again,1 comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances. An angel of God never has wings. Some will say that they have seen a spirit;2 that he offered them his hand, but they did not touch it.3 This is a lie. First, it is contrary to the plan of God; a spirit cannot come but in glory;4 an angel has flesh and bones;5 we see not their glory. The devil may appear as an angel of light.6 Ask God to reveal it; if it be of the devil,7 he will flee from you;8 if of God, He will manifest Himself, or make it manifest. We may come to Jesus and ask Him;9 He will know all about it; if He comes to a little child, he will adapt himself to the language10 and capacity of a little child.
Not every spirit, or vision, or singing, is of God.11 The devil is an orator;12 he is powerful;13 he took our Savior on to a pinnacle of the Temple,14 and kept Him in the wilderness for forty days.15 The gift of discerning spirits16 will be given to the Presiding Elder.17 Pray for him that he may have this gift. Speak not in the gift of tongues without understanding it,18 or without interpretation. The devil can speak in tongues;19 the adversary will come with his work; he can tempt20 all classes; can speak in English or Dutch. Let no one speak in tongues unless he interpret,21 except by the consent of the one who is placed to preside; then he may discern or interpret, or another may. Let us seek for the glory of Abraham, Noah, Adam, the Apostles, who have communion22 with [knowledge of] these things, and then we shall be among that number when Christ comes. (July 2, 1839.) DHC 3:383-392.
I explained concerning the coming of the Son of Man;23 also that it is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments,24 whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and “the righteous shall hardly escape;”25 still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith;26 yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God.27 So that it is an unhallowed principle to say that such and such have transgressed because they have been preyed upon by disease or death, for all flesh is subject to
death; and the Savior has said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”1 (September 29, 1839.) DHC 4:11.
Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.
May 14th, 1840
To Orson Hyde and John E. Page:
Dear Brethren: I am happy in being informed by your letter that your mission swells “larger and larger.” It is a great and important mission, and one that is worthy those intelligences who surround the throne2 of Jehovah to be engaged in. Although it appears great at present, yet you have but just begun to realize the greatness, the extent and glory3 of the same. If there is anything calculated to interest the mind of the Saints, to awaken in them the finest sensibilities, and arouse them to enterprise and exertion, surely it is the great and precious promises4 made by our heavenly Father to the children of Abraham;5 and those engaged in seeking the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah,6 cannot fail to enjoy the Spirit of the Lord and have the choicest blessings of heaven7 rest upon them in copious effusions.
Brethren, you are in the pathway to eternal fame, and immortal glory;8 and inasmuch as you feel interested for the covenant people of the Lord,9 the God of their fathers10 shall bless you. Do not be discouraged11 on account of the greatness of the work; only be humble and faithful,12 and then you can say, “What art thou, O great mountain! before Zerubbabel shalt thou be brought down.”13 He who scattered Israel has promised to gather them;14 therefore inasmuch as you are to be instrumental in this great work,15 He will endow you with power,16 wisdom, might and intelligence, and every qualification necessary; while your minds will expand wider and wider, until you can circumscribe the earth and the heavens, reach forth into eternity, and contemplate the mighty acts of Jehovah17 in all their variety and glory.
In answer to your inquiries respecting the translation and publication of the Book of Mormon, hymn book, history of the
Church, etc., I would say that I entirely approve of the same, and give my consent, with the exception of the hymn book,1 as a new edition, containing a greater variety of hymns, will be shortly published or printed in this place, which I think will be a standard work. As soon as it is printed, you shall have some sent to you, which you may get translated, and printed into any language you please.
Should we not be able to send some to you, and there should be a great call for hymn books where you may be, then I should have no objection to your publishing the present one. Were you to publish the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, or hymn book, I desire the copyright of the same to be secured in my name.
With respect to publishing any other work, either original or those which have been published before, you will be governed by circumstances; if you think necessary to do so, I shall have no objection whatever. It will be well to study plainness and simplicity2 in whatever you publish, “for my soul delighteth in plainness.”3
I feel much pleased with the spirit of your letter—and be assured, dear brethren, of my hearty cooperation, and my prayers for your welfare4 and success. In answer to your inquiry in a former letter, relative to the duty of the Seventies in regulating churches, etc., I say that the duties of the Seventies are more particularly to preach the Gospel,5 and build up churches,6 rather than regulate them, that a High Priest may take charge of them. If a High Priest should be remiss in his duty, and should lead, or suffer the Church to be led astray, depart from the ordinances7 of the Lord, then it is the duty of one of the Seventies, acting under the special direction of the Twelve,8 being duly commissioned by them with their delegated authority, to go to the Church, and if agreeable to a majority of the members of said Church, to proceed to regulate9 and put in order the same; otherwise, he can have no authority to act.
DHC 4:128-129. JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.
Saturday, July 11, 1840.—The High Council10 met at my office, when I taught them principles relating to their duty as
a Council, and that they might be guided by the same in future, I ordered it to be recorded as follows: “That the Council should try no case without both parties being present, or having had an opportunity to be present; neither should they hear one person’s complaint before his case is brought up for trial; neither should they suffer the character of any one to be exposed before the High Council without the person being present and ready to defend him or herself; that the minds of the councilors be not prejudiced for or against any one whose case they may possibly have to act upon.” (July 11, 1840.) DHC 4:154.
Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois,
July 22, 1840.
Dear Brother Phelps.—I must say that it is with no ordinary feelings I endeavor to write a few lines to you in answer to yours of the 29th ultimo; at the same time I am rejoiced at the privilege granted me.
You may in some measure realize what my feelings, as well as Elder Rigdon’s and Brother Hyrum’s were, when we read your letter—truly our hearts were melted into tenderness and compassion when we ascertained your resolves. I can assure you I feel a disposition to act on your case in a manner that will meet the approbation of Jehovah, (whose servant I am), and agreeable to the principles of truth and righteousness1 which have been revealed; and inasmuch as long-suffering, patience, and mercy2 have ever characterized the dealings of our heavenly Father3 towards the humble and penitent,4 I feel disposed to copy the example, cherish the same principles, and by so doing be a savior of my fellow men.5
It is true, that we have suffered much in consequence of your behavior—the cup of gall,6 already full enough for mortals to drink, was indeed filled to overflowing when you turned against us.7 One with whom we had oft taken sweet counsel together,8 and enjoyed many refreshing seasons from the Lord—“had it been an enemy, we could have borne it.9 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day when strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into
his gates, and cast lots upon Far West, even thou wast as one of them; but thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother, in the day that he became a stranger, neither shouldst thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.”1
However, the cup has been drunk, the will of our Father has been done,2 and we are yet alive, for which we thank the Lord. And having been delivered from the hands of wicked men3 by the mercy of our God,4 we say it is your privilege to be delivered from the powers of the adversary,5 be brought into the liberty of God’s dear children,6 and again take your stand among7 the Saints of the Most High,8 and by diligence, humility,9 and love unfeigned,10 commend yourself to our God,11 and your God, and to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal.12
Your letter was read to the Saints last Sunday, and an expression of their feeling was taken, when it was unanimously Resolved, That W. W. Phelps should be received into fellowship.13
“Come on, dear brother, since the war is past,
For friends at first, are friends again at last.”
Yours as ever,
JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.,—DHC 4:162-164.
In order to investigate the subject of the Priesthood, so important to this, as well as every succeeding generation, I shall proceed to trace the subject as far a I possibly can from the Old and New Testaments.
There are two Priesthoods14 spoken of in the Scriptures, viz., the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical. Although there are two Priesthoods, yet the Melchizedek Priesthood comprehends the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, and is the grand head, and holds the highest authority15 which pertains to the priesthood, and the keys of the Kingdom of God16 in all ages of the world17 to the latest posterity18 on the earth;19 and is the
channel through which all knowledge,1 doctrine, the plan of salvation2 and every important matter is revealed from heaven.3
Its institution was prior to the “foundation of this earth, or the morning stars sang together, or the Sons of God shouted for joy,”4 and is the highest and holiest Priesthood,5 and is after the order of the Son of God,6 and all other Priesthoods7 are only parts, ramifications, powers and blessings belonging to the same, and are held, controlled, and directed by it. It is the channel through which the Almighty commenced revealing His glory at the beginning of the creation of the earth, and through which He has continued to reveal Himself8 to the children of men9 to the present time, and through which He will make known His purposes10 to the end of time.
Commencing with Adam, who was the first man,11,a who is spoken of in Daniel as being the “Ancient of Days,”12 or in other words, the first and oldest of all, the great, grand progenitor of whom it is said in another place he is Michael,13 because he was the first and father of all,14 not only by progeny, but the first to hold the spiritual blessings,15 to whom was made known the plan of ordinances for the salvation16 of his posterity unto the end, and to whom Christ was first revealed, and through whom Christ has been revealed17 from heaven, and will continue to be revealed from henceforth. Adam holds the keys of the dispensation of the fullness of times;18 i.e., the dispensation of all the times have been and will be revealed through him from the beginning to Christ,19 and from Christ to the end of the dispen-
aThe doctrine here taught by the Prophet that Adam was the first man, and because of that fact was named the “Ancient of Days,” the “oldest of all,” because he is the grand progenitor of the earth, is confirmed in several passages of scripture. In the D. and C. 84:16, the Lord says in speaking of the authority of Priesthood: “And from Enoch to Abel, who was slain by the conspiracy of his brother, who received the priesthood by the commandments of God, by the hand of his father Adam, who was the first man.” Again in the Book of Moses, 1:34: “And the first man of all men, have I called Adam, which is many.” (i.e. that is the name means many, because he is the father of all.) In the same record (Moses 3:7) we also read: “And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also. In the Prophet Joseph Smith’s revision of the Scriptures where the genealogy of our Lord is given in Luke (v. 45) we find the following: “And of Enos, and of Seth, and of Adam, who was formed of God, and the first man upon the earth.”
sations that are to be revealed. “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself; that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him.” (Ephesians 1:9-10.)1
Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations.
And again, God purposed in Himself2 that there should not be an eternal fullness until every dispensation should be fulfilled and gathered together in one, and that all things whatsoever, that should be gathered together in one in those dispensations unto the same fullness and eternal glory, should be in Christ Jesus;3 therefore He set the ordinances to be the same forever and ever,4 and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14.)5
These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam, who acts under the direction of the Lord. From the above quotation we learn that Paul perfectly understood the purposes of God in relation to His connection with man, and that glorious and perfect order which He established in Himself, whereby he sent forth power, revelations, and glory.
God will not acknowledge6 that which He has not called, ordained, and chosen.7 In the beginning God called Adam by His own voice.8 “And the Lord called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and hid myself.” (See Genesis 3:9-10.)9 Adam received commandments and instructions from God:10 this was the order from the beginning.
That he received revelations, commandments and ordinances at the beginning is beyond the power of controversy;
else how did they begin to offer sacrifices to God in an acceptable manner?1 And if they offered sacrifices they must be authorized by ordination. We read Genesis 4:4,2 that Abel brought the firstlings of the flock and the fat thereof, and the Lord had respect to Abel and to his offering. And, again, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead, yet speaketh.” (Hebrews 11:4.)3 How doth he yet speak? Why he magnified the Priesthood4 which was conferred upon him, and died a righteous man,5 and therefore has become an angel of God by receiving his body6 from the dead, holding still the keys of his dispensation;7 and was sent down from heaven unto Paul to minister consoling words,8 and to commit unto him a knowledge of the mysteries of godliness.9
And if this was not the case, I would ask, how did Paul know so much about Abel,10 and why should he talk about his speaking after he was dead? Hence, that he spoke after he was dead must be by being sent down out of heaven to administer.
This, then, is the nature of the Priesthood; every man holding the Presidency of his dispensation, and one man holding the Presidency of them all, even Adam; and Adam receiving his Presidency and authority from the Lord,11 but cannot receive a fullness until Christ shall present the Kingdom to the Father,12 which shall be at the end of the last dispensation.13
The power, glory and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued;14 for Cain also being authorized to offer sacrifice,15 but not offering it in righteousness,16 was cursed.17 It signifies, then, that the ordinances must be kept in the very way God has appointed;18 otherwise their Priesthood will prove a cursing19 instead of a blessing.20
If Cain had fulfilled the law of righteousness21 as did Enoch, he could have walked with God22 all the days of his life,23 and
never failed of a blessing. “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah 300 years, and begat sons and daughters, and all the days of Enoch were 365 years; and Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” (Genesis 5:22-23.)1 Now this Enoch God reserved unto Himself,2 that he should not die at that time,3 and appointed unto him a ministry unto terrestrial bodies, of whom there has been but little revealed. He is reserved also unto the presidency of a dispensation,4 and more shall be said of him and terrestrial bodies5 in another treatise. His is a ministering angel,6 to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation,7 and appeared unto Jude as Abel did unto Paul;8 therefore Jude spoke of him (14, 15 verses). And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, revealed these sayings: “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His Saints.”9
Paul was also acquainted with this character, and received instructions from him. “By faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God; but without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a revealer10 to those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6.)11
Now the doctrine of translation is a power which belongs to this Priesthood. There are many things which belong to the powers of the Priesthood and the keys thereof, that have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world;12 they are hid from the wise and prudent13 to be revealed in the last times.14
Many have supposed that the doctrine of translation was a doctrine whereby men were taken immediately into the presence of God, and into an eternal fullness, but this is a mistaken idea. Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order,15 and a place prepared for such characters He held in reserve to be ministering angels unto many planets, and who as yet have not entered into so great a fullness as those who are resurrected from the dead. “Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.” (See Hebrews 11:35.)16
Now it was evident that there was a better resurrection,
or else God would not have revealed it unto Paul. Wherein then, can it be said a better resurrection.1 This distinction is made between the doctrine of the actual resurrection and translation: translation obtains deliverance from the tortures and sufferings of the body, but their existence will prolong as to the labors and toils of the ministry,2 before they can enter into so great a rest and glory.3
On the other hand, those who were tortured, not accepting deliverance,4 received an immediate rest from their labors. “And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for from henceforth they do rest from their labors5 and their works do follow them.”6 (See Revelation 14:13.)7
They rest from their labors for a long time, and yet their work is held in reserve for them, that they are permitted to do the same work, after they receive a resurrection for their bodies. But we shall leave this subject and the subject of the terrestrial bodies for another time, in order to treat upon them more fully.
The next great, grand Patriarch [after Enoch] who held the keys of the Priesthood was Lamech. “And Lamech lived one hundred and eighty-two years and begat a son, and he called his name Noah, saying, this same shall comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands because of the ground which the Lord has cursed.”8 (See Genesis 5:28-29.)9 The Priesthood continued from Lamech to Noah:10 “And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is before me, for the earth is filled with violence through them and behold I will destroy them with the earth.” (Genesis 6:13.)11
Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah12 that He talked with him [Noah]13 in a familiar and friendly manner,14 that He continued to him the keys, the covenants, the power and the glory, with which He blessed Adam15 at the beginning; and the offering of sacrifice,16 which also shall be continued at the last time; for all the ordinances and duties that ever have been required by the Priesthood, under the directions and commandments of the Almighty in any of the dispensations, shall all be had in the last dispensation, therefore all things had under the authority of the Priesthood17 at any former period, shall be had again, bringing to pass the restoration spoken of by the mouth of all
the Holy Prophets;1 then shall the sons of Levi2 offer an acceptable offering to the Lord. “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord.” (See Malachi 3:3.)3
It will be necessary here to make a few observations on the doctrine set forth in the above quotation, and it is generally supposed that sacrifice4 was entirely done away when the Great Sacrifice5 [i.e.,] the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus was offered up, and that there will be no necessity for the ordinance of sacrifice in future; but those who assert this are certainly not acquainted with the duties, privileges and authority of the Priesthood, or with the Prophets.
The offering of sacrifice has ever been connected and forms a part of the duties of the Priesthood.6 It began with the Priesthood, and will be continued until after the coming of Christ, from generation to generation. We frequently have mention made of the offering of sacrifice7 by the servants of the Most High8 in ancient days, prior to the law of Moses;9 which ordinances will be continued when the Priesthood is restored with all its authority, power and blessings.10
Elijah was the last Prophet that held the keys of the Priesthood, and who will, before the last dispensation, restore the authority and deliver the keys of the Priesthood, in order that all the ordinances may be attended to in righteousness.11 It is true that the Savior had authority and power to bestow this blessing; but the sons of Levi were too prejudiced. “And I will send Elijah the Prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord,”12 etc., etc. Why send Elijah? Because he holds the keys of authority to administer in all the ordinances of the Priesthood; and without the authority13 is given, the ordinances could not be administered in righteousness.
It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed.14 This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3,15 you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so
that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar—but the blood is sprinkled,1 and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.2
These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified,3 be fully resto