53991957

Letter to Silas Smith, 26 September 1833

Saints in ancient days, were saved in the Kingdom of God; neither do I doubt but that they held converse and communion with Him27

Instead of “Him,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “them.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


while they were in the flesh, as Paul said to his Corinthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed Himself to above five hundred Saints at one time after His resurrection.28

1 Corinthians 15:6.  


Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see Him in the flesh in the latter days.29

Job 19:25.  


I may believe that Enoch walked with God and by faith was translated.30

See Genesis 5:24.  


I may believe that Noah was a perfect man in his generation and also walked with God.31

See Genesis 6:9. In the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history, this sentence was missing. Robert Campbell, a clerk in the Church’s Historian’s Office in the 1850s and 1860s, later inserted the following sentence into the history: “I may [believe] that Noah was a perfect man in his generation & also walked with God.” In his role as clerk, Campbell may have become aware that Jesse Smith owned the original sent copy of this JS letter and added this sentence based on what appears in that version. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed with angels.32

See Genesis 17:1; 22:11, 15.  


I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of the Lord.33

See Genesis 26:2–5.  


I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels, and heard the voice34

Instead of “voice,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “word.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


of his Maker, that he wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained the blessing.35

See Genesis 32:24–32.  


I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire with fiery horses.36

See 2 Kings 2:11.  


I may believe that the saints saw the Lord and conversed with Him face to face after His resurrection.37

See Luke 24:13–51; John 20:19–31; and Acts 1:3–9.  


I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion, and unto the city of the Living God the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into eternity, and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant.38

See Hebrews 12:22–24.  


But will all this purchase an assurance for me, and39

Instead of “and,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “or.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


waft me to the regions of eternal day and seat me down in the presence of the King of Kings40

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits the passage “and seat me down in the presence of the King of Kings.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


with my garments spotless pure and white?
Or must I not rather obtain for myself by my own faith and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an equal privilege with the ancient Saints? And will not the Lord hear my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as he ever did to theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did? Or, is he a respecter of persons?41

See Acts 10:34.  


So I must close this subject for want of time, and I may with propriety say at the beginning
We would be glad42

Instead of “glad,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “pleased.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


to see you in 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...

More Info
, we would be glad to see you embrace43

Instead of “we would be glad to see you embrace,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history reads “and more pleased to have you embrace.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


the New Covenant and be one with us, we sometimes think you are now one with us in heart.44

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits the passage “and be one with us, we sometimes think you are now one with us in heart.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


I remain yours affectionately
Joseph Smith Jun
To Silas Smith

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
45

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits this address marker. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


[p. 5]
Saints in ancient days, were saved in the Kingdom of God;  neither do I doubt but that they held converse and communion  with Him27

Instead of “Him,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “them.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


while they were in the flesh, as Paul said to his  Corinthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed Himself to above  five hundred Saints at one time after His resurrection.28

1 Corinthians 15:6.  


 Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should  see Him in the flesh in the latter days.29

Job 19:25.  


I may believe that  Enoch walked with God and by faith was translated.30

See Genesis 5:24.  


I may  believe that Noah was a perfect man in his generation and  also walked with God.31

See Genesis 6:9. In the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history, this sentence was missing. Robert Campbell, a clerk in the Church’s Historian’s Office in the 1850s and 1860s, later inserted the following sentence into the history: “I may [believe] that Noah was a perfect man in his generation & also walked with God.” In his role as clerk, Campbell may have become aware that Jesse Smith owned the original sent copy of this JS letter and added this sentence based on what appears in that version. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


I may believe that Abraham com muned with God and conversed with angels.32

See Genesis 17:1; 22:11, 15.  


I may believe that  Isaac obtained a renewal of the covenant made to Abraham  by the direct voice of the Lord.33

See Genesis 26:2–5.  


I may believe that Jacob conver sed with holy angels, and heard the voice34

Instead of “voice,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “word.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 231.)  


of his Maker, that he  wrestled with the angel until he prevailed and obtained the bles sing.35

See Genesis 32:24–32.  


I may believe that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot  of fire with fiery horses.36

See 2 Kings 2:11.  


I may believe that the saints saw  the Lord and conversed with Him face to face after His resurrec tion.37

See Luke 24:13–51; John 20:19–31; and Acts 1:3–9.  


I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion,  and unto the city of the Living God the Heavenly Jerusalem,  and to an innumerable company of angels. I may believe that  they looked into eternity, and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus  the Mediator of the New Covenant.38

See Hebrews 12:22–24.  


But will all this pur chase an assurance for me, and39

Instead of “and,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “or.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


waft me to the regions  of eternal day and seat me down in the presence of the  King of Kings40

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits the passage “and seat me down in the presence of the King of Kings.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


with my garments spotless pure and white? 
Or must I not rather obtain for myself by my own faith  and diligence in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an  assurance of salvation for myself? And have I not an  equal privilege with the ancient Saints? And will not the Lord  hear my prayers and listen to my cries as soon as he ever  did to theirs, if I come to him in the manner they did?  Or, is he a respecter of persons?41

See Acts 10:34.  


So I must close this subject for want of time, and I  may with propriety say at the beginning
We would be glad42

Instead of “glad,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history has “pleased.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


to see you in 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...

More Info
, we would  be glad to see you embrace43

Instead of “we would be glad to see you embrace,” the copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history reads “and more pleased to have you embrace.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


the New Covenant and be one with us,  we sometimes think you are now one with us in heart.44

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits the passage “and be one with us, we sometimes think you are now one with us in heart.” (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


I remain yours affectionately
Joseph Smith Jun
To Silas Smith

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
45

The copy in Lucy Mack Smith’s history omits this address marker. (Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 232.)  


[p. 5]
Previous
JS wrote this 26 September 1833 letter, defending the idea of modern-day revelation, to his uncle Silas Smith

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
, who resided in Stockholm

Located in northern New York, about seventy miles southeast of Montreal and about fifteen miles southeast of St. Lawrence River. Landscape hilly and densely forested, with fertile soil. Region drained by St. Regis River. Area settled, by 1803. Formed from...

More Info
, New York. Besides Silas and his family, several other relatives of JS lived in the Stockholm area at this time, including his grandmother Mary Duty Smith and his uncles Jesse and Asahel Smith

21 May 1773–22 July 1848. Farmer. Born at Windham, Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Dunbarton, Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire, 15 Apr. 1774; to Derryfield (later Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire, 1778;...

View Full Bio
and their families.
Silas

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
, then a Presbyterian, was aware of his nephew’s revelations and of the Book of Mormon. According to a later history written by Silas’s son Jesse Smith, Joseph Smith Sr.

12 July 1771–14 Sept. 1840. Cooper, farmer, teacher, merchant. Born at Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Nominal member of Congregationalist church at Topsfield. Married to Lucy Mack by Seth Austin, 24 Jan. 1796, at Tunbridge...

View Full Bio
and his son Don Carlos

25 Mar. 1816–7 Aug. 1841. Farmer, printer, editor. Born at Norwich, Windsor Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Palmyra, Ontario Co., New York, 1816–Jan. 1817. Moved to Manchester, Ontario Co., 1825. Baptized into LDS church by David...

View Full Bio
visited Silas and other family members in 1830. Although Silas received the testimony of his family members “concerning the Latter day Work,” he was “slow about yielding obedience to the Gospel owing to the determined opposition” of his wife, Mary Aikens, and his brother Jesse, an ardent opponent of JS and the Church of Christ

The Book of Mormon related that when Christ set up his church in the Americas, “they which were baptized in the name of Jesus, were called the church of Christ.” The first name used to denote the church JS organized on 6 April 1830 was “the Church of Christ...

View Glossary
.1

Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2.  


Silas likely discussed the Church of Christ and its beliefs in new scripture and modern-day revelation with his brother John Smith

16 July 1781–23 May 1854. Farmer. Born at Derryfield (later Manchester), Rockingham Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Member of Congregational church. Appointed overseer of highways at Potsdam, St. Lawrence Co., New York, 1810. Married...

View Full Bio
in the year prior to receiving this letter. John was baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
in January 1832, and from July 1832 to late April 1833, he proselytized and held church meetings around the Stockholm

Located in northern New York, about seventy miles southeast of Montreal and about fifteen miles southeast of St. Lawrence River. Landscape hilly and densely forested, with fertile soil. Region drained by St. Regis River. Area settled, by 1803. Formed from...

More Info
area. Sometime in late 1832, John “went to Stockholm [and was] put up for the night at my Brothers,” and in early March 1833 he spent an evening with “Br. Silas” and had a conversation with him on “spiritual things.”2

John Smith, Journal, [Dec. 1832], 11; 8 Mar. 1833. John did not specify that he stayed with Silas, and he could have been referring to his other brother, Asahel Smith, who also lived in Stockholm. It is likely, but not certain, that the “Br. Silas” in John’s journal refers to Silas Smith. (Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2.)  


John returned to 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...

More Info
, Ohio, in late May 1833 and undoubtedly told JS of his proselytizing efforts.
JS’s objective in this 26 September letter was to persuade his uncle that it was both scripturally sound and reasonable that God would speak to prophets in modern times as he did in biblical times. Most Christians of the era believed that the canon of scripture was closed and found the idea of additional canonical revelation to be repugnant, even blasphemous.3

For more information on these theological views that were common in nineteenth-century America, see Holland, Sacred Borders.  


This letter is a prime example of the Mormon argument for modern and continuing revelation. In the letter, JS heavily referenced books from both the Old and New Testaments to demonstrate that each age needs to hear the voice of God anew. The ideas expressed in this letter appeared again in the second installment of a serialized letter written by “the Elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of the Church in 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...

More Info
” and published in The Evening and the Morning Star in early 1834.4
JS closed this letter by expressing his hope that Silas

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
would eventually join the Church of Christ. Jesse Smith, Silas’s son, recorded that his father received this letter from JS and that Silas “was baptized in the summer of 1835 by Hyrum Smith

9 Feb. 1800–27 June 1844. Farmer, cooper. Born at Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont. Son of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack. Moved to Randolph, Orange Co., 1802; to Tunbridge, before May 1803; to Royalton, Windsor Co., Vermont, 1804; to Sharon, Windsor Co., by...

View Full Bio
, and in the spring of 1836 emigrated to 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...

More Info
, Ohio,” with family members, including his aged mother, Mary Duty Smith.5

Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 6. According to a letter from Hyrum Smith, “[It is the will] of god that uncle Silas Should fetch granmother in spite of [all the devils there] are out of Haadees & god will Bless Him in So doing & give her Strinth [to endure the jou]rney.” John Smith wrote in his journal that he returned to Kirtland on 18 May 1836 and “found our mother and brethren from the east.” (Hyrum Smith, Kirtland, OH, to Elias Smith, East Stockholm, NY, 27 Feb. 1836, CHL, missing text supplied from Smith, Life of Joseph F. Smith, 116; John Smith, Journal, 18 May 1836; Elias Smith, Journal, 17–18 May 1836.)  


Jesse Smith transcribed the letter featured here in its entirety into the family history portion of his journal in 1855.6

Jesse’s journal begins with a family history. He began writing in this journal in 1855. (Jesse Smith, Autobiography and Journal, 2–5.)  


He apparently copied the original letter sent by JS, which was evidently still in the possession of the family at the time because the transcript included postal information not contained in any other extant version; Jesse’s copy appears to be the most complete and accurate extant copy. Martha Jane Knowlton Coray transcribed a copy of JS’s letter to Silas

1 Oct. 1779–13 Sept. 1839. Farmer. Born in Derryfield (now Manchester), Hillsborough Co., New Hampshire. Son of Asael Smith and Mary Duty. Moved to Topsfield, Essex Co., Massachusetts, by 1790. Moved to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, by 1800. Married first...

View Full Bio
for Lucy Mack Smith

8 July 1775–14 May 1856. Oilcloth painter, nurse, fund-raiser, author. Born at Gilsum, Cheshire Co., New Hampshire. Daughter of Solomon Mack Sr. and Lydia Gates. Moved to Montague, Franklin Co., Massachusetts, 1779; to Tunbridge, Orange Co., Vermont, 1788...

View Full Bio
’s history in the mid-1840s. However, that version varies significantly from the text featured here in words, phrases, and punctuation. Some of the variants in the Coray copy make the wording of the letter less clear when compared to Jesse Smith’s transcript. In addition, the Coray copy includes some later, Utah-era redactions and insertions that appear to have been made to match the version in Jesse’s journal. Significant differences between these two versions are noted in footnotes throughout the following transcript.

Facts