Letter to the Elders of the Church, 2 October 1835

  • Source Note
Page 180
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“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.
Here we pause for a moment, to make a few remarks upon the idea of to this place. It is well known that there were lands belonging to the government, to be sold to individuals; and it was understood by all, at least we believed so, that we lived in a free country, a land of liberty and of laws, guaranteeing to every man, or any company of men, the right of purchasing lands, and settling, and living upon them: therefore we thought no harm in advising the , or Mormons, as they are reproachfully called, to gather to this place, inasmuch as it was their duty, (and it was well understood so to be,) to purchase, with money, lands, and live upon them—not infringing upon the civil rights of any individual, or community of people: always keeping in view the saying, “Do unto others as you would wish to have others do unto you.” Following also the good injunction: “Deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”
These were our motives in teaching the people, or Latter Day Saints, to gather together, beginning at this place. And inasmuch as there are those who have had different views from this, we feel, that it is a cause of deep regret: For, be it known unto all men, that our principles concerning this thing, have not been such as have been represented by those who, we have every reason to believe, are designing and wicked men, that have said that this was our doctrine:—to infringe upon the rights of a people who inhabit our civil and free country: such as to drive the inhabitants of from their lands, and take possession thereof unlawfully. Far, yea, far be such a principle from our hearts: it never entered into our mind, and we only say, that God shall reward such in that day when he shall come to make up his jewels.
But to return to my subject: after having ascertained the very spot, 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 , and used every influence and argument, that lay in my power, to get those who believe in the , whose circumstances would admit, and whose families were willing to remove to the place which I now 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 we have reason to fear, having a zeal not according to knowledge, 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 an 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, 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 faults, and wicked misrepresentations, which have caused, we have every reason to believe, thousands to think they were doing God’s service, when they were persecuting the children of God: whereas, if they could have enjoyed the true light, and had a just understanding of our principles, they would have embraced them with all their hearts, and been rejoicing in the love of the truth.
And now to show our doctrine on this subject, we shall commence with the first principles of the gospel, which are repentance, and , and the . This we believe to be our duty, to teach to all mankind the doctrine of repentance, 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 behoved 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.
By this we learn, that it behoved Christ to suffer, and to be crucified, and rise again on the third day, for the express purpose that repentance and [p. 180]
“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.
Here we pause for a moment, to make a few remarks upon the idea of to this place. It is well known that there were lands belonging to the government, to be sold to individuals; and it was understood by all, at least we believed so, that we lived in a free country, a land of liberty and of laws, guaranteeing to every man, or any company of men, the right of purchasing lands, and settling, and living upon them: therefore we thought no harm in advising the , or Mormons, as they are reproachfully called, to gather to this place, inasmuch as it was their duty, (and it was well understood so to be,) to purchase, with money, lands, and live upon them—not infringing upon the civil rights of any individual, or community of people: always keeping in view the saying, “Do unto others as you would wish to have others do unto you.” Following also the good injunction: “Deal justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God.”
These were our motives in teaching the people, or Latter Day Saints, to gather together, beginning at this place. And inasmuch as there are those who have had different views from this, we feel, that it is a cause of deep regret: For, be it known unto all men, that our principles concerning this thing, have not been such as have been represented by those who, we have every reason to believe, are designing and wicked men, that have said that this was our doctrine:—to infringe upon the rights of a people who inhabit our civil and free country: such as to drive the inhabitants of from their lands, and take possession thereof unlawfully. Far, yea, far be such a principle from our hearts: it never entered into our mind, and we only say, that God shall reward such in that day when he shall come to make up his jewels.
But to return to my subject: after having ascertained the very spot, 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 , and used every influence and argument, that lay in my power, to get those who believe in the , whose circumstances would admit, and whose families were willing to remove to the place which I now 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 we have reason to fear, having a zeal not according to knowledge, 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 an 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, 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 faults, and wicked misrepresentations, which have caused, we have every reason to believe, thousands to think they were doing God’s service, when they were persecuting the children of God: whereas, if they could have enjoyed the true light, and had a just understanding of our principles, they would have embraced them with all their hearts, and been rejoicing in the love of the truth.
And now to show our doctrine on this subject, we shall commence with the first principles of the gospel, which are repentance, and , and the . This we believe to be our duty, to teach to all mankind the doctrine of repentance, 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 behoved 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.
By this we learn, that it behoved Christ to suffer, and to be crucified, and rise again on the third day, for the express purpose that repentance and [p. 180]
Page 180