Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson County, Missouri, 25 June 1833
JS, , , and , Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to and Others, , Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833; sent copy; handwriting of and ; signatures of JS, , , , and ; three pages; JS Collection, CHL. Includes address, postal markings, and docket.
Bifolium measuring 11 × 9 inches (28 × 22 cm) when folded. The letter was trifolded in letter style, addressed, and sealed with a red adhesive wafer. The letter included two enclosures: a “draft of the City of Zion with explanations” and a “draft of the house to be built immediately in for the .” After being delivered, the letter was refolded for filing, and added a filing notation: “Letter from J. S. S. R. F. G. | W. & M. H | June 1833”. The letter has undergone conservation.
This letter, along with other papers belonging to , was in possession of the Partridge family until at least the mid-1880s, sometime after which it came into the possession of the Church Historian’s Office.
See Whitney, “Aaronic Priesthood,” 5–6; Partridge, Genealogical Record, 1; and the full bibliographic entry for the Edward Partridge Papers in the CHL catalog.
Whitney, Orson F. “The Aaronic Priesthood.” Contributor, Apr. 1885, 241–250.
Partridge, Edward, Jr. Genealogical Record. 1878. CHL. MS 1271.
In the first six months of 1833, communication characterized by accusations and chastisement between church leaders in and those in transitioned to messages, such as the letter featured here, that aimed at conciliation and developing a spirit of “perfect harmony.” Correspondence from Missouri, including responses to JS’s letters of 21 April 1833 and 2 May 1833, in part prompted this letter, which addressed inquiries on diverse topics, including , the Book of Commandments, new in , Missouri, and the ’s operations and membership. This letter also included warnings against teaching false doctrine and responded to a question as to whether JS had yet obtained any of the lost books of the Bible.
The letter was part of a package, with two other documents enclosed with it: “a draft of the City of Zion with explanations, and a draft of the house to be built immediately in for the as well as all purposes of Religion and instruction.” This letter gave directions concerning these two other documents. The “house to be built immediately in Zion,” for instance, was to be similar to the that church leaders had begun constructing in , Ohio. It was one of the twenty-four houses of the Lord, or temples, planned to be built in , according to the explanations given in the two documents that accompanied this letter. This letter also advised church leaders that should they “not understand the explanations,” they should send any questions or concerns to leaders in Kirtland so that they “may have a propper understanding” of the city plat and the architectural plan of the House of the Lord. The drafting and sending of the documents in this package represent a significant moment in the articulation of the church presidency’s vision for the growing church in .
This letter and the two enclosed documents were postmarked in on 26 June 1833. By the time church leaders in received the package on 29 July 1833, violent confrontations with antagonistic county residents had already occurred. and immediately replied to this letter to inform the Kirtland leaders of the growing unrest. Such events prevented church leaders from following many of the directions given in this letter.
Though in the handwriting of and , the letter is written primarily in the first-person voice of , who was writing on behalf of the . The letter also contains a postscript from JS.
Should you not understand the explanations Sent with the drafts you will inform us, so as you may have a propper understanding, for it is meet that all things should be done according to the pattern— The following errors we have found in the as printed 40th. Chap 10th. verse third line, instead of corruptable put corrupted 14 verse of the same chapter 5th. line instead of respecter to persons, put respecter of persons. 21st. verse 2nd. line of the same chapter, instead of respecter to, put respecter of 44 Chapter 12 verse last line, instead of hands, put heads— Sir, I proceed to answer your questions concerning the of Property. First, it is not right to condescend to verry great paticulars in takeing inventories. the fact is this, that a man is bound by the law of the church to consecrate to the before he can be considered a legal heir to the Kingdom of , and this too, without constraint, and unless he does this, he cannot be acknowledged before the Lord on the Church Book. Therefore, to condescend to particulars, I will tell you that every man must be his own judge how much he should receive, and how much he should suffer to remain in the hands of the Bishop. I speak of those who consecrate more than they need for the support of themselves and family The matter of consecration must be done by the mutual consent of both parties— For, to give the Bishop power to say how much every man shall have and he be obliged to comply with the Bishops judgment, is giveing to the Bishop more power than a King has and upon the other hand, to let every man say how much he needs and the Bishop obliged to comply with his judgment, is to throw Zion into confusion and make a Slave of the Bishop. The fact is, there must be a balance or equalibrium of power between the bishop and the people, and thus harmony and good will may be preserved among you. Therefore, those persons consecrating property to the Bishop in , and then receiveing an back, must show reasonably to the Bishop that he wants as much as he claims. but in case the two parties can<not> come to a mutual agreement, the Bishop is to have nothing to do about receiveing their consecrations and the case must be laid before a of twelve , the Bishop not being one of the council, but he is to lay the case before them. Say to that we have no means in our power to assist him in a pecuniary point, as we know not the hour when we shall be Sued for debts which we have contracted ourselves in . Say to him that he must exert himself to the utmost to obtain means himself to replenish his for it must be replenished and it is his duty to attend to it. We were not a little surprised to hear that some of our letters of a public nature which we sent for the good of <have been> kept back from the , this is conduct which we highlydisapprobate, Answers to queries in letter of June 4th. First in relation to the poor, when the Bishops are appointed according to our reccommendation, it will involve upon them to see to the poor according to the . In regard to the printing of the New translation it cannot be done until we can attend to it ourselves, and this we will do as soon as the Lord permit— As to , all members of the are considered one, The order of the is a matter of which is of the greatest importance and the mercantile establishment God for to be devoted to the support thereof, andGodwillbringeverytransgressorintojudgment. Say to the Brethren Hulits and to all others that the Lord never authorized them to say that the Devil nor his angels nor the Sons of perdition should ever be restored, for their state of destiny was not revealed to man, is not revealed, nor ever shall be revealed save to those who are made partakers thereof, consequently, those who teach this doctrine have not received it of the Spirit of the Lord, Truly, declared it to be the doctrine of devils. We therefore, command that this doctrine [p. ]
Whether these inquiries were written before or after BishopEdward Partridge received JS’s 2 May 1833 letter is unknown. The issues addressed here, however, seem to deal with different aspects of consecration than what is found in the May letter, which offers counsel on how to legally prevent those leaving the church from reclaiming property they had formerly consecrated for the use of the poor. (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833.)
Seven months earlier, JS wrote, “It is conterary to the will and commandment of God that those who receive not the inherttenc [inheritance] by consecration agree[a]ble to his law . . . should have there names enrolled with the people of God, neithe[r] is the[ir] geneology to be kept or to be had where it may be found on any of the reccords or hystory of the church there names shall not be found neithe[r] the names of ther fathers or the names of the[ir] children writen in the book of the Law of God saith the Lord of hosts.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832.)
In 1831 Sidney Gilbert was appointed church agent and directed to open a store in Jackson County for the church. Gilbert’s store, an asset of the United Firm, was expected to generate profits for land purchases and for the bishop’s storehouse that could then be used to assist the poor and to finance other projects, including printing church publications under the direction of the Literary Firm. Although this goal would have been difficult to achieve in the best of circumstances, in January 1833 Gilbert was rebuked for having “fearfulness that God will not provide for his saints in their last days and these fears lead him on to covitousness, This ought not so to be, but let him do just as the Lord has commanded him and then the Lord will open his coffers, and his wants will be liberally supplied.” Consistent with that earlier counsel, here the presidency denied Gilbert’s request for financial aid and reminded him that it was his duty, not theirs, to find a way to restock the store and thereby generate funds needed for church operations in Jackson County. (Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53:4]; Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:8–10]; Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833.)
JS had previously expressed his displeasure that letters sent to Missouri addressed to one leader or generically to the “brethren” were not freely circulated among the other leaders or the entire congregation when applicable. A similar sentiment is reiterated by JS in the postscript to this letter. (Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833.)
While it is not clear exactly to whom this warning is directed, it may have been meant for Sidney Gilbert, who, as noted earlier in this letter, seems to have been unable to earn an adequate profit in the store he ran for the United Firm in Jackson County. The store’s unprofitability or Gilbert’s use of proceeds from the mercantile establishment for unauthorized purposes would have compromised plans to publish the scriptures.
The phrase “Sons of perdition” is also found in the written account of a JS and Sidney Rigdonvision dated February 1832. The vision outlined three levels of heavenly glory and stated that the “sons of perdition” were excluded from any of those three levels. (Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76:43–44].)
“Brethren Hulits” refers to Charles and Sylvester Hulet. Sylvester Hulet was again reprimanded the following year because “the Hulet branch believed that they recieved the word of the Lord by the gift of tongues and would not proceed to their temporal business without recieving the word of the Lord. Silvester would speak and Sally Crandle interpreted. Said that they would not recieve the teachings of ordained members even br. Joseph Smith jr. unless it agreed with their gifts.” (Minute Book 2, 6–7 Aug. 1834; see also Minute Book 2, 31 July–1 Aug. 1834.)