Letter to the Church in Colesville, 2 December 1830
JS and , Letter, , Seneca Co., NY, to “Dearly beloved in the Lord” [church members], [, NY], 2 Dec. 1830. Featured version copied [ca. 1871] in , History, 196–211; unidentified handwriting; private possession. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Newel Knight and the Church in Colesville, 28 August 1830.
This letter gives instructions to the church members in , New York, in general but also addresses JS’s brother in particular. At the time JS and wrote it, Hyrum and his wife, , were living in Colesville with and his wife, . Hyrum Smith and Newel Knight were engaged in preaching in the area. The letter included a copy of a recently received letter from , who reported on the great success he and his three missionary companions were experiencing in the area around , Ohio. The entire letter, including Cowdery’s communication, was eventually copied into Newel Knight’s autobiography.
This letter was apparently part of an ongoing correspondence, not all of which is extant, between JS and members of the church in . Like JS’s August 1830 letter to members in Colesville, it reflects a belief in an imminent Second Coming and cites international political conflict and natural catastrophes as evidence that “the prophecies of the Book of Mormon are fulfilling as fast as time can bring it about.”
The apocalyptic content of the letter raises the possibility that it may also have been intended to prepare the Colesville branch for the forthcoming exodus of church members from New York to Ohio, declaring as it did that the “time is soon at hand that we shall have to flee whithersoever the Lord will, for safety.” The inclusion of Cowdery’s letter, with its encouraging commentary on the work in Kirtland, may have helped prepare members in Colesville to respond positively to the call to leave New York and remove to that distant location. However, no other evidence indicates that JS was contemplating a move to Ohio prior to the 30 December revelation. (See Revelation, 30 Dec. 1830 [D&C 37:2–3].)
[New York] Decr. 2nd. 1830
Dearly beloved in the Lord
According to your prayers, the Lord hath called, chosen, , sanctified and sent unto you, another servant and separated unto his gospel through Jesus Christ his our Redeemer, to whom be all honor & praise henceforth and forever— even our beloved brother , the bearer of these lines. Whom I recommend unto you as a faithful Servant [p. 196]
Pratt was confirmed a member of the church and ordained an elder on 1 December 1830 and departed on a mission for Colesville on or soon after 2 December. (“History of Orson Pratt,” 10, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, 4 Nov. 1830 [D&C 34].)
Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.