, Letter, unidentified place, to JS, [, Geauga Co., OH], 28 Sept. 1835. Featured version copied [between ca. 16 Nov. and Dec. 1835] in JS, Journal, 1835–1836, pp. 38–41; handwriting of and ; JS Collection, CHL. For more complete source information, see the source note for JS, Journal, 1835–1836.
On 28 September 1835, wrote this letter to JS from an unspecified location. In the letter, he indicated his sorrow for falling away from the church and asked for a revelation indicating God’s will for him. Whitlock had been sometime prior to June 1831, when he was to the in . He moved to sometime before 23 January 1832. When non-Mormon residents of , Missouri, demanded in July 1833 that the Saints depart the county, Whitlock was one of several church leaders who pledged to vacate by 1 January 1834. In September 1833, he participated in a council held in Jackson County, but he then disappears from extant records. He likely experienced the fall 1833 violence that drove church members from Jackson County, but it is not clear where he went thereafter. According to a later account, Whitlock was apparently still in Missouri when the came to in summer 1834 and perhaps was still in good standing with the church at that time. However, at some point before September 1835, he was cut off from the church; extant records are silent as to why. Whitlock’s letter indicates that he had long wanted to reconcile with JS and the church but had been prevented from doing so by his “many vices.”
After receiving ’s letter, JS read it twice and “could not refrain from weeping” because of Whitlock’s repentant spirit. On 16 November 1835, JS replied to the letter, including in his reply a revelation declaring that God would forgive Whitlock for his sins and directing Whitlock to come to , Ohio. Whitlock apparently did so, and in January 1836, a of the church presidency in Kirtland resolved to allow Whitlock to be rebaptized, to accept him “in full fellowship,” and to ordain him again to the office of high priest.
’s original letter is not extant. and copied the letter into JS’s journal, probably sometime around 16 November 1835.
God: and the abyss into which I have fallen, is a subject that swells, my heart to[o] big for utterance, and language is overwhelmed with feeling, and looses its power of description.
and as I desire to know the will of God concerning me; Believing it is my duty to make known unto you my real situation.
I shall therefore, dispasionately procede to give a true and untarnished relation; I need not tell you that in former times, I have preached the word; and endeavored to be instant in season out of season, to reprove rebuke exhort and faithfully to discharge that trust reposed in me. But Oh! with what grief & lamentable sorrow and anguish do I have to relate that I have fallen, from that princely station where unto our God, has called me. Reasons why are unnecessary. May the fact suffice; and believe me when I tell you, that I have sunk myself, (since my last separation from this boddy) in crimes of the deepest dye, and that I may the better enable you to understand what my real sins are, I will mention (although pride forbids it) some that I am not guilty of, my <hands> have not been stained with inocent blood; neither have I lain couched around the cottages of my fellow men to seize and carry off the booty; nor have I slandered my neighbor, nor bourn fals testimony, nor taken unlawful hire, nor oppressed the widdow nor fatherless, neither have I persecuted the Saints. But my hands are swift to do iniquity, and my feet are fast running in the paths of vice and folly; and my heart [p. 39]
McLellin, William E. Journal, 18 July–20 Nov. 1831. William E. McLellin, Papers, 1831–1836, 1877–1878. CHL. MS 13538, box 1, fd. 1. Also available as Jan Shipps and John W. Welch, eds., The Journals of William E. McLellin, 1831–1836 (Provo, UT: BYU Studies; Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994).
Coltrin, Zebedee. Diary and Notebook, 1832–1833. Zebedee Coltrin, Diaries, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 1443, fd. 2.