30472

Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 12 February 1833

commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

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of God,2

A recent revelation commanded JS to “testify, and to warn the people.” (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:81].)  


and I am quite anxious to have it all laid before the public for it is of importance to them,3

JS’s 4 January letter suggests that his anxiety and sense of urgency in warning readers of calamities and encouraging them to repent stemmed from the “distruction to the eye of the spiritual beholder” that “seemes to be writen by the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon almost evry thing we behold.” He thus felt emboldened to “step forth into the field” to help others gain eternal salvation. (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  


But I have no clame upon you, neither do I wish to urge you beyond that which is reasonable to do it. I have only to appeal to your extended geneorsity to all religious societies that claim that Christ has come in the flesh4

See “Our Own Affairs,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 27 Oct. 1832, [3].  


and also tell you what will be the consequences of a neglect to publish it— some parts of the letter were very severe upon the wickedness of sectarianism—5

The unpublished segment of JS’s first letter spoke about apostasy, unbelief, and wickedness that had caused God to “withdraw his holy spirit” from the earth. His letter also stated, however, that with the restoration of the Church of Christ, “the light of the latter day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness.” (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  


I acknowledge and the truth, remember is hard and severe against all iniquity and wickedness,6

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 38–39 [1 Nephi 16:2–3].  


but this is no reason why it should not be published but the very reason why it should,7

Saxton may have felt justified in omitting these portions of JS’s letter because of Saxton’s nominal commitment to avoid religious controversy. In the September 1832 prospectus for his newly renamed paper, Saxton wrote: “In seeking however, to promote a pacific spirit and the interchange of christian kindness more generally, it is not our intention to temporize in concerns of eternal moment, or in any way to sacrifice the self-denying independent principles of truth to any of those selfish purposes which might be secured in humouring popular prejudice. We hope to pursue that elevated—unwavering course dictated by the word of God, and the pressing demands of a world lying in wickedness.” This message was also printed as the opening column in each subsequent issue. (“American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1].)  


It lays the axe at the root of the tree and I long to see many of the sturdy oaks which have long cumbred the ground fall prostrate.8

See Luke 3:9; Matthew 3:10; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 237 [Alma 5:52].  


I now say unto you that if you wish to clear your garments from the blood of your readers9

The concept of clearing, or cleaning, one’s garments from the blood of others appeared in a recent revelation that partly informed JS’s 4 January 1833 letter and his response here. (See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:84–85]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 565 [Ether 12:37–38].)  


I exhort you to publish that letter entire but if not the sin be upon your head—10

See Acts 18:6; Ezekiel 33:4; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124 [Jacob 1:19].  


Accept sir the good wishes and tender regard of your unworthy servant—
Joseph Smith Jr
Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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12th Feby. 1833 [p. 28]
commandment

Generally, a divine mandate that church members were expected to obey; more specifically, a text dictated by JS in the first-person voice of Deity that served to communicate knowledge and instruction to JS and his followers. Occasionally, other inspired texts...

View Glossary
of God,2

A recent revelation commanded JS to “testify, and to warn the people.” (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:81].)  


and I am quite anxious  to have it all laid before the public for it is  of importance to them,3

JS’s 4 January letter suggests that his anxiety and sense of urgency in warning readers of calamities and encouraging them to repent stemmed from the “distruction to the eye of the spiritual beholder” that “seemes to be writen by the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon almost evry thing we behold.” He thus felt emboldened to “step forth into the field” to help others gain eternal salvation. (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  


But I have no clame  upon you, neither do I wish to urge you beyond  that which is reasonable to do it. I have only to appeal  to your extended geneorsity to all religious societies  that claim that Christ has come in the flesh4

See “Our Own Affairs,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 27 Oct. 1832, [3].  


 and also tell you what will be the consequen[c]es  of a neglect to publish it— some parts of the  letter were very severe upon the wickedness of  sectarianism—5

The unpublished segment of JS’s first letter spoke about apostasy, unbelief, and wickedness that had caused God to “withdraw his holy spirit” from the earth. His letter also stated, however, that with the restoration of the Church of Christ, “the light of the latter day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness.” (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  


I acknowledge and the truth,  remember is hard and severe against all iniq uity and wickedness,6

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 38–39 [1 Nephi 16:2–3].  


but this is no reason  why it should not be published but the  very reason why it should,7

Saxton may have felt justified in omitting these portions of JS’s letter because of Saxton’s nominal commitment to avoid religious controversy. In the September 1832 prospectus for his newly renamed paper, Saxton wrote: “In seeking however, to promote a pacific spirit and the interchange of christian kindness more generally, it is not our intention to temporize in concerns of eternal moment, or in any way to sacrifice the self-denying independent principles of truth to any of those selfish purposes which might be secured in humouring popular prejudice. We hope to pursue that elevated—unwavering course dictated by the word of God, and the pressing demands of a world lying in wickedness.” This message was also printed as the opening column in each subsequent issue. (“American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1].)  


It lays the axe  at the root of the tree and I long to see  many of the sturdy oaks which I have long  cumbred the ground fall prostrate.8

See Luke 3:9; Matthew 3:10; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 237 [Alma 5:52].  


I now  say unto you that if you wish to clear  your garments from the blood of you[r] readers9

The concept of clearing, or cleaning, one’s garments from the blood of others appeared in a recent revelation that partly informed JS’s 4 January 1833 letter and his response here. (See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:84–85]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 565 [Ether 12:37–38].)  


 I exhort you to publish that letter entire  but if not the sin be upon your head—10

See Acts 18:6; Ezekiel 33:4; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124 [Jacob 1:19].  


Accept sir the good wishes and tender  regard of your unworthy servant—
Joseph Smith Jr
Kirtland

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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12th Feby. 1833 [p. 28]
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JS, Letter, Kirtland Township

Located ten miles south of Lake Erie. Settled by 1811. Organized by 1818. Population in 1830 about 55 Latter-day Saints and 1,000 others; in 1838 about 2,000 Saints and 1,200 others; in 1839 about 100 Saints and 1,500 others. Mormon missionaries visited township...

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, Geauga Co., OH, to Noah C. Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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, Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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, Monroe Co., NY, 12 Feb. 1833. Retained copy, [ca. 12 Feb. 1833], in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 27–28; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS Letterbook 1.

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