, 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.
quick to devise wicked imaginations: nevertheless I am impressed with the sure thought that I am fast hast[e]ning into a whole world of disembodied beings, without God & with but one hope in the world; which is to know that to er[r] is human, but to forgive is divine: much I might say in relation to myself and the original difficulties with the , which I will forbear, and in asmuch as I have been charged with things that <I> was not guilty of I am now more than doubly guilty. and am now willing to forgive and forget only let me know that I am within the reach of mercy; If I am not I have no reflections to cast, but say that I have sealed my own doom and pronounced my own sentence. If the day is passed by with me may I here beg leave to entreat of those who are still toiling up the rug[g]ed assent to make their way to the realms of endless felicity, and delight, to stop not for anchors here below, follow not the <my> example. but steer your course onward inspite of all the combined powers of earth and hell, for know that one miss step here is only retrievable by a thousand groans and tears before God. Dear Brother Joseph, let me entreat you on the reception of this letter, as you regard the salvation of my soul, to enquire at the hand of the Lord in my behalf; for I this day in the presence of God, do covenant to abide the word that may be given, for I am willing to receive any [p. 40]
James Hervey, an Anglican clergyman from England, used the phrase “the sure prospect of entering into a whole world of disembodied beings” in his 1747 work Contemplations on the Night. (Hervey, Meditations and Contemplations, 1:7–8, 10, 2:42, italics in original.)
Hervey, James. Meditations and Contemplations, by the Rev. James Hervey, A. M., Late Rector of Weston-Favell, Northamptonshire; Containing His Meditations among the Tombs, Reflections on a Flower Garden, &c. 2 vols. New York: Richard Scott, 1824.