Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 January 1833
- Source Note
On 11 January 1833, JS wrote a letter to in , enclosing with the letter a copy of a revelation dated 27–28 December 1832 and perhaps also a copy of a revelation dated 3 January 1833. In addition to transmitting the revelations, the letter responded to a communication from Phelps dated 15 December 1832 and to one from dated 10 December 1832. Although Phelps’s and Gilbert’s letters are no longer extant, Gilbert’s letter contained what and called “low, dark, & blind insinuations” and Phelps’s “a lightness of spirit.” Other communications from Missouri earlier in 1832 had revealed a rift between church leaders in Missouri and . In part to resolve these differences, JS traveled to Missouri in the spring of 1832 and met with various leaders, but subsequent letters indicated that problems remained. On 31 July 1832, JS reproved Phelps for his “cold and indifferent” spirit and accused other Missouri leaders of “raking up evry fault” and “looking for motes in the eyes of those who are laboring with tender and prayerful hearts continually for there salvation.” Phelps may have shown a repentant spirit at some point thereafter, because JS stated in a November 1832 letter that he had “the most implicit confidence” in Phelps “as a man of God.” JS’s response to the December communications from Phelps and Gilbert, however, shows that tension between Missouri and Ohio leaders persisted.Revelations throughout 1832 and early 1833 called on the Saints to repent of their sins lest calamities should befall them, and JS wrote this letter to emphasize the importance of that instruction. Asserting that JS and other leaders were deeply interested in the welfare of those Saints living in , the letter outlined the problems that would afflict Missouri church members if they did not repent. It also chastised and for the contents of their previous letters.JS’s letter implied that the Saints living in were not under the same condemnation as the “children of .” A revelation dated just two weeks earlier stated instead that the Ohio Saints’ willingness to “receive his [the Lord’s] will” was “pleasing” and “the rejoice over [them].” The letter reiterated some of the instructions contained in the 27–28 December revelation pertaining to those living in , Ohio, such as the direction to construct a . The revelation had told the “first labourers, in this last kingdom” to “appoint among yourselves, a teacher” and gain instruction in both secular and spiritual matters. According to this letter to , the school was to be “a ”—perhaps much like the “schools of the prophets” that Congregational and Presbyterian churches had established in the 1700s to train divinity students interested in the ministry. JS’s letter reported that Kirtland church leaders were in the process of establishing this school; later, in the summer of 1833, the Saints in would create their own “school of Elders.”The original letter is not extant, but copied it into JS’s letterbook, probably soon after its composition. published an excerpt from the 27–28 December 1832 revelation in the February 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, which indicates that he received the letter and the enclosed revelation. Phelps also acted on JS’s instruction in the letter to make the Star more interesting by giving “the rise progress and faith of the church.” In the March 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star, Phelps included an article titled “Prospects of the Church,” in which he stated his intent “to give the particulars of the rise and progress of the church.” The following month, Phelps published a column titled “Rise and Progress of the Church of Christ,” which he evidently intended as a series. Similar columns, including letters from those reporting on their preaching in the , followed in the April, June, and July 1833 issues of the Star.
Darowski, Joseph F. “Schools of the Prophets: An Early American Tradition.” Mormon Historical Studies 9 (Spring 2008): 1–13.
Pratt, Parley P. The Autobiography of Parley Parker Pratt, One of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Embracing His Life, Ministry and Travels, with Extracts, in Prose and Verse, from His Miscellaneous Writings. Edited by Parley P. Pratt Jr. New York: Russell Brothers, 1874.