on behalf of the First Presidency (including JS), Letter, , Hancock Co., IL, to “the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Sept. 1840. Featured version published in “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, Oct. 1840, 177–179. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
The October 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons—the newspaper published in , Illinois—printed a letter dated September 1840 from the addressed to the “Saints Scattered Abroad.” Church leaders periodically communicated with the Latter-day Saints in outlying through published open letters such as this one, encouraging members to move forward in “the work of the Lord” and providing news and general instruction. In this letter, the First Presidency discussed the building of a at Nauvoo, announced efforts to publish new editions of Latter-day Saint scripture and a hymnal, and recommended that church members gather to , Illinois, if they were able to do so.
The published letter identified as the scribe and stated that the letter was written “by order of the first Presidency.” The primary author, however, is unclear. No manuscript version of the letter appears to be extant.
and by obedience to the heavenly command, escape the things which are coming on the earth and secure to themselves an inheritance among the sanctified in the world to come.
Having been placed in a very responsible situation in the , we at all times feel interested in the welfare of the Saints and make mention of them continually in our prayers to our heavenly Father, that they may be kept from the evils which are in the world and ever be found walking in the path of truth.
The work of the Lord in these last days, is one of vast magnitude and almost beyond the comprehension of mortals: its glories are past description and its grandeur insurpassable. It has been the theme which has animated the bosom of prophets and righteous men from the creation of this world down through every succeeding generation to the present time; and it is truly the , when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in him, and when all things shall be restored, as spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began: for in it will take place the glorious fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers, while the displays of the power of the Most High will be great, glorious, and sublime.
The purposes of our God are great, his love unfathomable, his wisdom infinite, and his power unlimited; therefore, the Saints have cause to rejoice and be glad, knowing that “this God is our God forever and ever and he will be our guide unto death.”
Having confidence in the power, wisdom and love of God, the Saints have been enabled to go forward through the most adverse circumstances, and frequently when to all human appearances nothing but death presented itself, and destruction, inevitable, has the power of God been manifest, his glory revealed, and deliverance effected; and the Saints, like the children of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt, and through the Red Sea, have sung an anthem of praise to his holy name: this has not only been the case in former ages, but in our own days, and within a few months, have we seen this fully verified.
Having, through the kindness of our God, been delivered from destruction, and secured a location upon which we have again commenced opperations for the good of his people, we feel disposed to go forward and unite our energies for the upbuilding of the kingdom, and establishing the in their fulness and glory.
The work which has to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophets: and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur.
The work of the spoken of in the scriptures, will be necessary to bring about the glories of the last dispensation: It is probably unnecessary to press this subject on the Saints, as we believe the spirit of it is manifest, and its necessity obvious to every considerate mind; and every one zealous for the promotion of truth and righteousness, is equally so for the gathering of the Saints.
Dear brethren feeling desirous to carry out the purposes of God, to which we have been called; and to be co-workers with him in this last dispensation: we feel the necessity of having the hearty co-operation of the Saints throughout this land, and upon the Islands of the sea; and it will be necessary for them to hearken to council, and turn their attention to the church, the establishment of the kingdom, and lay aside every selfish principle, every thing low, and groveling; and stand forward in the cause of truth, and assist to the utmost of their power, those to whom has been given the pattern and design; and like those who held up the hands of Moses, hold up the hands of those who are appointed to direct the affairs of the kingdom, so that they may be strengthened, and be enabled to prosecute their great designs and be instrumental in effecting the great work of the last days.
Believing the time has now come when it is necessary to erect a house of prayer, a house of order, a house for [p. 178]
This sentence refers to the conflicts in northern Missouri, which culminated when Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered that the Saints be driven from the state or exterminated. Church leaders subsequently purchased extensive tracts of land in Hancock County and immediately across the Mississippi River in Lee County, Iowa Territory. The Saints viewed this acquisition of land as a deliverance from the hostilities and persecution in Missouri. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)