Letter to the Church, circa February 1834
“Elders” (including JS), Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to “brethren in Christ, and companions in tribulation,” ca. Feb. 1834. Featured version published in “The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Feb. 1834, 135–136. For more complete source information on The Evening and the Morning Star, see the source note for Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.
Bearing a title similar to that of a column in the December 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, this letter, published in the February 1834 issue of the Star, was the first installment of a series directed to those who had been ordained to the in the . The articles, written as epistles from JS and other leaders in , Ohio, focus on major doctrinal themes and contain almost no allusions to contemporary concerns such as the recent expulsion of Church of Christ members from , Missouri, and ongoing efforts to obtain redress and protection. The series continued in the March and April 1834 issues of the church’s periodical. Since these installments may have been prepared at different times, each installment of the serial is reproduced as an individual document.The installment featured here focuses on Jesus Christ’s atonement and on law and governance—particularly the superiority of the laws of heaven over the laws of the land. JS and other priesthood leaders in emphasized that human law guarantees a level of temporal protection, while God’s law does not promise exemption from afflictions: human law “promises safety in temporal life; but the law of God promises that life which is eternal.” The epistle also discussed the eternal nature of and need for strict adherence to the laws of God. “God has given certain laws to the human family,” this epistle declared, “which, if observed, are sufficient to prepare them to inherit this rest.” Missionaries were to take this message to the people they encountered “for the good of man” that all might become “joint heirs” with God’s son in celestial, eternal rest. The letter featured here thus provided a conceptual foundation for the work of the ministry of the Church of Christ and the invitation for all of God’s children to partake in .Before this letter was published, priesthood bearers had primarily received instruction from handwritten revelations or oral instructions. This and other letters published in church newspapers during this period seem to mark a transition to a different method of delivering religious instruction.