History, 1834–1836

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

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Genealogy of President Joseph Smith junior.
Joseph Smith junior was born in the town of Sharon, Windsor County Vermont, December 23, A.D. 1805.
was born in the town of , Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, July 10, A.D. 1804.
Joseph Smith junior, and , were married in the town of , County of Chenango, New=York, January 18, A.D. 1827.
June 15, 1828, a son was born unto Joseph Smith junior. , Pennsylvania.{Died the same hour.
April 30, 1831, a Son and daughter were born unto Joseph Smith jr. in , Geauga County, Ohio.{Lived three hours.
was born in , Ohio, November 6, 1832.
and were born in , Cuyahoga Co. Ohio, April 30, 1831, and adopted into Joseph Smith jr’s family at the age of nine days. died in , Portage Co. Ohio, March 29, 1832. Age 11 months.
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Genealogy of President Joseph Smith junior.
was born in the town of Topsfield, County of Essex, Massachusetts, July 12, A.D. 1772.
was born in the town of Gilsom [Gilsum], County of Cheshire, New Hampshire, July 8, 1776.
and were married in Tunbridge, Orange Co. Vt. January 24, 1796.
, born in Tunbridge, Vt. February 11, 1798.Died in , Ontario Co. N.Y. Nov. 19, 1825— Aged—27, years—9 months—8 days.
, born in Tunbridge Vt. February 9, 1800.
, born in Tunbridge Vt. May 16, 1803.
Joseph Smith jr, born in Sharon, Windsor Co. Vt. Dec. 23, 1805.
, born Tunbridge Vt. March 13, 1808.
, born in Royalton, Windsor Co. Vt. March 13, 1800 1810.Died Royalton, Vt. March 24, 1810=Aged—12 days.
, born in Royalton Vt. [blank] March 13, 1811.
, born in Lebanon, Grafton Co. N.H. July 28, 1813.
, born in Norwich, Windsor Co. Vt. March 25, 1816.
, born in , Ontario Co. N.Y. July 18, 1821.
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Genealogy of President .
was born in the town of Wells, Rutland Co. Vermont, Friday, October 3, 1806.
was born in the town of , Seneca County, New=York, Sunday, January 22, 1815.
and were married in , Jackson Co. Missouri, -[Zion]- Dec. 18, 1832.
<​Maria Cowdery was born in , Geauga County, Ohio, fifteen (15) minutes past 9 o’clock A.M. Friday, August 21, 1835.​>
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Genealogy of President .
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Genealogy of President .
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Genealogy of President .
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Genealogy of President .
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Genealogy of President .
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Editorial Note
As explained previously, apparently wrote the entry for 5 December 1834 sometime between the meeting held that evening and the related meeting held the following day. This promptness suggests that Cowdery’s entry for the 6 December 1834 meeting was likewise written the day of that meeting or shortly thereafter. The blank pages between the 6 December entry and the next section of the history were likely reserved for further historical entries, but no similar contemporaneous entries were made here or anywhere else in the history.

Chapter 1.
5 December 1834 • Friday
Friday Evening, December 5, 1834. According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, President Smith, assistant Presidents, and , assembled for the purpose of ordaining <​first​> High Counsellor to the office of assistant President of the High and Holy Priesthood in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
It is necessary, for the special benefit of the reader, that he be instructed <​into, or​> concerning the power and authority of the above named Priesthood.
First. The office of the President is to preside over the whole Chu[r]ch; to be considered as at the head; to receive revelations for the Church; to be a Seer, and Revelator <​and Prophet—​> having all the gifts of God:— having taking <​Moses​> for an ensample. Which is Second. the office and station of the above President Smith, according to the calling of God, and the ordination which he has received.
Second. The office of Assistant President is to assist in presiding over the whole chu[r]ch, and to officiate in the abscence of the President, according to their <​his​> rank and appointment, viz: , first; Second, and Third, as they <​were​> are severally called. The office of this Priesthood is also to act as Spokesman—taking Aaron for an ensample.
The virtue of this the <​above​> Priesthood is to hold the keys of the kingdom of heaven, or the Church militant.
The reader may further understand, that Presidents <​the​> reason why President <​High Counsellor​> was not previously ordained <​to the Presidency,​> was, in consequence of his necessary attendance in Zion, to assist in conducting the printing business; but that this promise was made by the angel while in company with President Smith, at the time they recievd the office of the lesser priesthood. And further: The circumstances and situation of the Church requiring, Presidents and were previously ordained, to assist President Smith.
After this short explination, we now proceed to give an account of the acts, promises, and blessings of this memorable Evening:
First. After assembling, we received a rebuke for our former low, uncultivated, and disrespectful manner of communication, and salutation, with, and unto each other, by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us: Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Chu[r]ch, and to be saviors of men: and also upon the church: And there must needs be a repentance and a refor[m]ation among you, in all things, in your ensamples before the Chuch, and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another—rendering unto every man the respect due the office, and calling, and priesthood, whereunto I the Lord have appointed and ordained you. Amen. [p. 17]
It is only necessary to say, relative to the foregoing reproof and instruction, that, though it was given in sharpness, it occasioned gladness and joy, and we were willing to repent and reform, in every particular, according to the instruction given. It is also proper to remark, that after the reproof was given, we all confessed, voluntarily, that such had been the manifestations of the Spirit a long times since; in consequence of which the rebuke came with greater sharpness.
Not thinking to evade the truth, or excuse, in order to escape censure, but to give proper information, a few remarks relative to the situation of the Chuch previous to this date, is necessary. Many, on hearing the fulness of the gospel, embraced it with eagerness; <​yet,​> at the same time were unwilling to forego their former opinions and notions relative to Church government, and the rules and habits proper for the good order, harmony, peace, and beauty of a people destined, with the protecting care of the Lord, to be an ensample and light of the world. They did not dispise government; but there was a disposition to organize that government according to their own notions, or feelings. For example: Every man must be subjected <​to​> wear a particular fashioned coat, hat, or other garment, or else an accusation was brought that we were fashioning after the world. Every one must be called by their given name, without respecting the office or ordinance to which they had been called: Thus, President Smith was called Joseph, or brother Joseph; , brother Sidney, or Sidney, &c. This manner of address gave occasion to the enemies of the truth, and was a means of bringing reproach upon the Cause of God. But in consequence of former prejudices, the Church, many of them, would not submit to proper and wholesome order. This proceeded from a spirit of enthusiasm, and vain ambition—a desire to compel others to come to certain rules, not dictated by the will of the Lord; or a jealous fear, that, were men called by thier respective titles, and the ordinance of heaven honored in a proper manner, some were in a way to be exalted above others, and their form of government disregarded. In fact, the true principle of honor in the Church of the Saints, that the more a man is exalted, the more humble he will be, if actuated by the Spirit of the Lord, seemed to have been overlooked; and the fact, that the greatest is least and servant of all, as said our Savior, never to have been thought of, by numbers. These facts, for such they were, when viewed in their proper light, were sufficient, of themselves to cause men to humble themselves before the Lord; but when communicated by the Spirit, made an impression upon our hearts not to be forgotten. [p. 18]
Perhaps, an arrangement of this kind in a former day would have occasioned some unpleasant reflections, in the minds of many, and at an early <​earlier​> period, in this church, others to have forsaken the cause, in consequence of weakness, and unfaithfulness; but that the leaders of the church should wait so long before stepping forward according <​to​> the manifestation of the Spirit, deserved a reproof. And that the church should be chastened, for their uncultivated manner of salutation, is also just. But to proceed with the account of the interview.
After addressing the throne of mercy, President Smith laid hands upon , and ordained him to the Presidency of the High priesthood in the Church, saying:
Brother, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was crucified for the sins of the world, that we through the virtue of his blood might come to the Father, I lay my hands upon thy head, and ordain thee a President of the high and holy priesthood, to assist in presiding over the Chu[r]ch, and bearing the keys of this kingdom— which priesthood is after the order of Melchizedek— which is after the order of the Son of God— And now, O Father, wilt thou bless this thy servant with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding— give him, by the Holy Spirit, a correct understanding of thy doctrine, laws, and will— Commune with him from on high— let him hear thy voice, and receive the ministries ministring of the holy angels— deliver him from temptation, and the power of darkness— deliver him from evil, and from those who may seek his destruction,— be his shield, his buckler, and his great reward— endow him with power from on high, that he may write, preach, and proclaim the gospel to his fellowmen in demonstration of the Spirit and of power— may his feet never slide— may his heart never feint— may his faith never fail. Bestow upon him the blessings of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and of Joseph— Prolong his life to a good old age, and bring him in peace to his end, and to rejoice with thy saints, even the sanctified, in the celestial kingdom; for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Presidents , and , confirmed the ordinance and blessings by the laying on of hands and prayer, after which each were blessed with the same blessings and prayer.
Much light was communicated to our minds, and we were instructed into the order of the Church of the saints, and how they ought to conduct in respecting and reverencing each other. The praise of men, or the honor of this world, is of no benefit; but if a man is respected in his calling, and considered to be a man of righteousness, the truth may have an influence, many times, by which means they may teach the gospel with success, and lead men into the kingdom of heaven. [p. 19]
6 December 1834 • Saturday
On Saturday, December 6, Presidents Smith, , and assembled with High Counsellors , and , in company with , Counsellor to the Bishop, High Priest , and <​Elder​> .
The meeting was opened by prayer, and a lengthy conversation held upon the subject of introducing a more refined order into the Church. On further reflection, the propriety of ordaining others to the office of Presidency of the high priesthood was also discussed, after which High Counsellor was ordained <​to​> the Presidency under the hands of President Smith, and High Counsellor under the hands of . The others present were blessed under the hands of Presidents J. Smith jr. , and , and the meeting closed, after a happy season, of and a social intercourse upon the great subject of the gospel and the work of the Lord in this day. [24 lines blank] [p. 20]
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Editorial Note
The following section includes transcripts of eight letters wrote in 1834 and 1835 regarding JS’s visions of an angel and his discovery of the gold plates of the Book of Mormon. Cowdery addressed the letters to and published them as a series in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate between October 1834 and October 1835. The titles and formatting employed in this history are similar to those in the published series of articles, indicating that the Cowdery letters were copied into the history from the Messenger and Advocate, not from a manuscript version of the letters. could have begun the transcription in JS’s history as early as 6 December 1834, the date of Cowdery’s last historical entry in the preceding section of the history. However, Cowdery probably gave the history to Williams around 2 October 1835, when he gave Williams JS’s journal. On 29 October 1835, JS retrieved the history from Williams and delivered it to , who continued copying the Cowdery letters. It is likely that Parrish finished copying the letters by early April 1836, when he gave JS’s journal (and presumably the 1834–1836 history along with it) to .
In the first letter, recounted his experiences with JS beginning when the two first met in April 1829. The letter includes an account of the vision he and JS had of John the Baptist, who gave them the authority to baptize. After composing this letter, but before its publication, Cowdery developed a new history-writing plan: he decided that in subsequent letters he would relate the “full history of the rise of the church,” beginning with JS’s early life and visions. As editor of the Messenger and Advocate, Cowdery prefaced the published version of the first letter with an explanation (also transcribed into the history) of the new plan. Although he had no firsthand knowledge of church history prior to April 1829, Cowdery assured his readers that “our brother J. Smith Jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensible.” Some passages in the ensuing narrative seem to have been related to Cowdery by JS, since Cowdery recounts events in which only JS participated.
composed the letters to inform the Latter-day Saints of the history of their church, but he also wrote for the non-Mormon public. Employing florid romantic language, frequent scriptural allusions, and much dramatic detail, he clearly intended to present a rhetorically impressive account of early Mormon history. He placed the rise of the church in a dispensational framework, characterizing the time between the end of the New Testament and JS’s early visions as a period of universal apostasy. He included the revivalism of various denominations during the Second Great Awakening, which JS experienced in his youth, as an example of the doctrinal confusion and social disharmony present in Christendom. Throughout the series of letters, he defended JS’s character and that of the Smith family, and his explicitly apologetic statements include apparent allusions to both ’s Delusions (1832) and ’s Mormonism Unvailed (1834).
Beginning in the third letter, provided the most extensive account of the origins of the Book of Mormon published up to that time. He related JS’s initial visions of the angel Moroni and, using biblical prophecies, elaborated on the angel’s message concerning the gathering of Israel in the last days in preparation for the Millennium. Cowdery continued his narrative up to, but did not include, JS’s receiving the gold plates in September 1827.
The transcription of the letters into JS’s history was evidently conceived in terms of the entire series, not as a piecemeal copying of the individual letters. As noted above, Cowdery probably gave the “large journal” containing the history begun in 1834 to in October 1835, the month of the Messenger and Advocate issue in which his final installment was published. By the time Williams received the history, Cowdery may have already written the final letter; he had at least conceived of it as the final installment in his series. With the serialized Cowdery letters complete or nearing completion, the new history kept in the “large journal” could serve as a repository—more permanent than unbound newspapers—for a copied compilation of the entire series.

Letters from Messenger and Advocate
The following communication was designed to have been published in the last No. of the star; but owing to a press of other matter it was laid over for this No. of the Messenger and ad[v]ocate. Since it was writen, upon further reflection, we have thought that a full history of the rise of the church of the Latter Day Saints, and the most interesting parts of its progress, to the present time, would be worthy the perusal of the Saints.— If circumstances admit, an article on this subject will appear on in each subsequent No. of the Messenger and advocate, until the time when the church was driven from Mo. by a lawless banditti; & such other remarks as may be thought appropriate and interesting.
That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J. Smith Jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensible. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the Saints.—
To do <​Justice to​> this subject will require time and space: we therefore ask the forbearance of our readears, assuring them that it shall be founded upon facts.
Oliver Cowdery to William W. Phelps, 7 September 1834
, Medina Co. Ohio, Sabbath evening, September 7, 1834.
Dear ,— Before leaving home, I promised, if I tarried long, to write; and while a few moments are now allowed me for reflection, asside from the cares and common conversation of my friends in this place, I have thought that were I to communicate them to you, might, perhaps, if they should not prove especially beneficial to yourself, by by confirming you in the faith of the gospel, at least be interesting, since it has pleased our heavenly Father to call us both to rejoice in the same hope of eternal life. And by giving them publicity, some thousands who have embraced the same covenant, may learn something more particular upon the rise of the this church, in this last time. And while the gray evening is fast changing into a settled darkness, my heart responds with the happy millions who are in the presence of the Lamb, and are past the power of temptation, in rendering thanks, though feebly, to the same parent.
Another day has passed, into that, to us boundless ocean Eternity! where nearly six thousand years have gone before; and what flits across the mind like an electric shock is, that it will never return! [p. 46] Whether it has been well improved or not; whether the principles emenating from HIM who “hallowed” it, have been observed; or whether, like the common mass of time, it has been heedlessly spent, is not for me to say—one thing I can say—it can never be recalled!—it has rolled in to assist in filling up the grand space decreed in the mind of its Author, till nature shall have ceased her work, and time its accustomed revolutions—when its lord shall have completed the gathering of his elect, and with them enjoy that sabbath which shall never end!
On Fryday, the 5th, in company with our brother Joseph Smith Jr. I left for this place (,) to attend the conference previously appointed. To be permited, once more, to travel with this brother, occasions reflections of no ordinary kind. Many have been the fatiagues and privations which have fallen to my lot to endure, for the gospel’s sake, since 1828 with this brother. Our road has frequently been spread with the “fowlers snare,” and our persons saught with the eagerness, of the savage’s ferocity, for innocent blood, by men, either heated to desperation by the insenuation of those who professed to be “guides and way marks,” to the kingdom of glory, or the individuals themselves!— This, I confess, is a dark picture to spread before our patrons, but they will pardon my plainness when I assure them of the truth, In fact, God has so ordered, that the reflections which I am permited to cast upon my past life, relative to a knowledge of the way of salvation, are rendered “doubly endearing.” Not only have I been graciously preserved from wicked and unreasonable men, with this our brother, but I have seen the fruit of perseverance in proclaiming the everlasting gospel, immediately after it was declared to the world in these last days, in a manner not to be forgotten while heaven gives my common intellect. And what serves to render the reflection past expression on this point is, that from his hand I received baptism, by the direction of the angel of God—the first received into this church, in this day.
Near the time of the setting of the sun, sabbath evening, April 5th. 1829, my natural eyes for the first time beheld this brother. He then resided in , susquehanna county Penn. On monday the 6th. I assisted him in aranging some business of a temporal nature, and on tuesday the 7th. commenced to write the book of Mormon. These were days never to be forgotten—to <​sit​> assist under the voice sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to [p. 47] write from his mouth, as he translated with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites should have said, [“]Interpreters,” the history, or reccord, called “the book of Mormon.[”]
To notice, in few words, the interesting account given by Mormon, and his faithful son Moroni, of a people once beloved and favored of heaven, would supercede my present design: I shall therefore defer this to a future period, and as I said in the introduction, pass more directly to some few incidents immediately connected with the rise of this church, which may be entertaining to some thousands who have stepped forward, amid the frowns of biggots and the callumny of hypocrites, and embraced the gospel of Christ.
No men <​man​> in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites, from the mouth of the saviour of the precise manner in which men should build up his church, and especially, when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being burried in the Liquid grave, to answer a “good concience by the resurection of Jesus Christ.[”]
After writing the account given of the savior’s ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easily to be seen, as the prophet said would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people.
On reflecting further, it was as easily to be seen, that amid the great strife and noise concerning religeon, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the gospel For, the question might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelation? when his testamony is no less then the spirit of prophecy? and his religeon based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations in all ages of the world, when he has had a people on earth? If these facts were burried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger, if once permited to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given, “arise and be baptized.”
This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich is [in] mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to [p. 48] manifest to us his will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!— What Joy! what wonder! what amazement! while the world were wracked and distracted—while millions were grouping [groping] as the blind for the world wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld—our ears heard. As in the “blaze of day;” yes more—above the glitter of the may sun beam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced the to the center, and his words, [“]I am thy fellow servant,” dispelled every fear. We listened—we gazed—we admired! Twas the voice of the angel from glory—twas a message from the Most High! and as we heard we rejoiced, while his love enkindled upon our souls, and we were wrapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? No where: uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
But, dear brother think further think for a moment, what Joy filled our hearts, and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the holy priesthood, as he said, [“]upon <​you​> my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer this priesthood, and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the sons of Levi may yet offer an offering into the Lord in righteousness!”
I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the Joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the holy spirit! Man may deceave his fellow man; deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till naught but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falshood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch [p. 49] with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the savior, from the bosom of eternity strikes it all into insignifficance, and blasts it forever from the mind! The assurence that we were in the presence of an angel; the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me, past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Saviors goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permited to tarry, and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that day which shall never cease!
To day the church in this place assembled, and were addressed on the great and important subject of salvation by brother , followed by brother . The cheering truths ably any [and] eloquently advanced by these brethren were like “apples of gold. in baskets of silver.”—
<​*​> I must close for the present: my candle is quite extinguished. And all nature seems locked in silence, shrouded in darkness, and enjoying that repose so necessary to this life. But the period is rolling on when night will close, and those who are found worthy will inherit that city where neither the light of the sun nor moon will <​be​> necessary! “for the glory of God will be bright in it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof.”
To , Esqr.
P.S. I shall write you again on the subject of the Conference. <​O.C.​> I will hereafter give you a full history of the rise of this church, up to the time stated in my introduction; which will necessarily embrace the life and character of this brother. I shall therefore leave thy [the] history of baptism, &c. till its proper place.
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter II,” November 1834
Letter II.
To , Esqr.
Dear Brother:—
In the Last Messenger and Advocate I promised to commence a more particular or minute history of the rise and progress of the church of the Latter Day Saints; and publish for the benefit of enquirers and all who are disposed to learn. There are certain facts relative to the works of God [p. 50]
<​*The saints listened with attention, after which bread was brken, and we offered another memorial to our Lord that we remembered him.​>
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worthy the consideration and observance of every individual, and every society:— They are that he never works in the dark—his works are always performed in a clear, intelligible manner: and another point is, that he never works in vain. This is not the case with men; but might it not be? When the Lord works, he accomplishes his purposes, and the effects of his power are to be seen afterward. In view of this, suffer me to make a few remarks by way of introduction, The works of man may shine for a season with a degree of brilliancy, but time changes their comp[l]exion; and whether it did or not, all would be the same in a little space, as nothing except that which was erected by the hand which never grows weak, can remain when corruption is consumed.
I shall not be required to adorn and beautify my narrative with a relation of the faith of Enoch, and those who assisted him to build up Zion, which fled to God—on the mountains of which was commanded the blessing, life forever more—to be held in reserve to add another ray of glory to the grand retinue, when worlds shall rock from their base to their center; the nations of the righteous rise from the dust, and the blessed millions of the church of the first born shout his tri[u]mphant coming, to receive his kingdom, over which he is to reign till all enemies are subdued. Nor shall I write the history of the Lords church raised up according to his own instruction to Moses and Aaron; of the perplexities and discouragements which came upon Israel for their transgressions, their organization upon the land of Canaan, and their overthrow and dispersion among all nations, to reap the reward of their eniquities, to the appearing of the Great Shepherd, in the flesh.
But there is, of necessity a uniformity so exact; a manner so precise, and ordinances so minute, in all ages and generations whenever God has established his church among men, that should I have occasion to recur to either age, and particularly to that characterized by the advent of the Messiah, and the ministry of the apostles of that church; with a cursory view of the same till it lost its visibility on earth; was driven into darkness, or till God took the holy priesthood unto himself wher it has been held in reserve to the present century, as a matter of right [p. 51] in this free country, I may take the privilege. This may be doubted by some—indeed by many—as an admission of this point would overthrow the popular systems of the day. I cannot reasonably expect, then, that the large majority of professors will be willing to listen to my argument for a moment, as a careful, impartial, and faithful investigation of the doctrines which I believe to be correct, and the principles cherished in my bosom—and believed by this church—by every honest man must be admited as truth.
Of this I may say as Tertullian said to the emperor when writing in defence of the saints in his day: “Whoever looked well into our religeon that did not embrace it?”
Common understanding undertakings and plans of men may be overthrown or destroyed by opposition. The systems of this world may be exploded or annihilated by oppression or falshood; but it is the reverse of <​with​> pure religeon. There is a power attendant on truth that all the arts and designs of men cannot fathom; there is an increasing influence which rises up in one place the moment it is covered in another, and the more it is traduced, and the harsher the means employed to effect its extinction, the more numerous are its votaries.— It is not the vain cry of “delusion” from the giddy multitude; it is not the snears of biggots; it is not the frowns of zealots, neither the rage [of] princes, kings, nor emperors, that can prevent its influence.
The fact is as Tertullian said, no man ever looked carefully into its co[n]sistency and propriety without embracing it. It is impossable: That light which enlightens man, is at once enraptured: that intelligence which existed before the world was, will unite, and that wisdom in the Divine economy will be so conspicuous, that it will be embraced, it will be observed, and it must be obeyed!
Look at pure religion whenever it has had a place on earth, and you will always mark the same characteristics in all its features. Look at truth (without which the former could not exist,) and the same pecularities are apparent. Those who have been guided by them have always shown the same principles; and those who were not, have as uniformly sought to destroy their influence.
Religion has had its friends and its enemies; its advocates and its opponents. But the thousands of years which have [p. 52] come and gone, have left it unaltered; millions who have embraced it, and are now enjoying that bliss held forth in its promises, have left its principles unchanged, and its influence upon the honest heart, unweakened. The many oppositions which have encountered it; the millions of calumnies, the numberless reproches, and the myriads of falshoods, have left its fair form unimpaired, its beauty untarnished, and its excellence as excellent; while its certainty is the same, and its foundation upheld by the hand of God!
One peculiarity of men I wish to notice in the early part of my narrative.— So far as my acquaintance and knowledge of men and their history extends, it has been the custom of every generation, to boast of, or extol the acts of the former.
In this respect I wish it to be distinctly understood that I mean the righteous,—those to whom God communicated his will. There has ever been an apparent blindness common to men, which has hindred their discovering the real worth and excellence of individuals while residing with them; but when once deprived of their society, worth and councel, they are ready to exclaim, “how great and inestimable were their qualities, and how precious is their memory.”
The vilest and most corrupt are not exempted from this charge: even the Jews, whose former principles had become degenerated, and whose religion was a mere show, were found among that class who were ready to build and garnish the sepulchars of the prophets, and condemn their fathers for putting them to death; making important boasts of their own righteousness, and of their assurance of salvation, in the midst of which they rose up with one consent, and treacherously and shamefully betrayed, and crucified the savior of the world! and No wonder that the enquirer has turned aside with disgust, nor marvel that God has appointed a day when he will call the nations before him, and reward every man according to his works!
Enoch walked with God, and was taken home with out tasting death.— Why were not all converted in his day and taken with him to glory? Noah, it is said, was perfect in his generation: and it is plain that he had communion with his maker, and by his direction accomplished a work the parallel of which is not to be found in the annals of the world! Why were not the world converted, that the flood might have been destroyed stayed? Men, from the days of our father Abraham, have talked, boasted, and extolled his faith: and he is even represented in the scriptures:— [“]The father of [p. 53] the faithful.” Moses talked with the Lord face to face; received the great moral law, upon the bases of which those of all civillized governments are founded; led Israel forty years, and was taken home to receive the reward of his toils—then Jacob could realize his worth. Well was the question asked by our lord, “How can the children of the bride chamber mourn while the bridegroom is with them”?
It is said, that he travelled and taught the righteous principles of his kingdom three years, during which he chose twelve men, and ordained them apostles, &c. The people saw and heard—they were particularly benefited, many of them, by being healed of infirmities, and diseases; of plagues, and devils: they saw him walk upon the water, they saw the winds and waves calmed at his command; they saw thousands fed to the full with a pittance, and the very powers of darkness tremble in his presence—and like others before them considered it as a dream, or a common occurrence, till the time was fulfilled, and he was offered up. Yet while he was with them he said you shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and shall not see it, He knew calamity would fall upon that people, and the wrath of heaven overtake them to their overthrow, and when that devoted city was surrounded with armies, well may we conclude that they desired a protector possessing sufficient power to lead them to some safe place aside from the tumult of a seige.
Since the apostles fell asleep all men who profess a belief in the truth of their mission, extol their virtues and celebrate their fame. It seems to have been forgotten that they were men of infermities and subject to all the feelings, passions, and imperfections common to other men. But it appears, that they as others were before them, are looked upon as men of perfection, holiness, and purity, and goodness, far in advance of any since. So were the characters of the prophets held in the days of the apostles. What can be the difference in the reward, whether a man died for righteousness’ sake in the days of Abel, Zecharias, John the twelve apostles chosen at Jerusalem, or since? Is not the life of one equally as precious as the other? and is not the truth, Just as true?
But in reviewing the lives and acts of men in past generations, whenever we find a righteous man among them, there always were excuses for not giving heed or credence to his testamony. The people could see his imperfections; or, if no imperfections, supposed ones, and were always ready to frame an excuse upon that for not believeing.— No matter how pure the principles, nor how precious the teachings—an excuse was wanted—and an excuse was had. [p. 54]
The next generation, perhaps, was favored with equally as righteous men, who were condemned upon the same principles of the former while the acts and precepts of the former were the boasts of the multitude; when in reality, their doctrines were no more pure, their exertions to turn men to righteousness no greater, neither their walk any more perfect circumspect—the grave of the former is considered to be holy, and his sepulcher is garnished while the latter is deprived a dwelling among men, or even an existence upon earth! Such is a specimen of the depravity and inconsistency of men, and such has been their conduct toward the righteous in centuries past.
When John the son of Zecharias came among the Jews, it is said that he came neither eating bread nor drinking wine. In another place it is said that his meat was locusts and wild honey. The Jews saw him, heard him preach, and were witnesses of the purity of the doctrines advocated—they wanted an excuse, and they soon found one— “He soon found hath a devil!”— And who among all generations, that valued his salvation, would be taught, by or follow one possessed of a devil?
The savior came in form and fashion of a man; he ate, drank, and walked about as a man, and they said “Behold, a man gluttonous, and a wine bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!” You see an excuse was wanting, but not long wanting till it was found—who would follow a disscipated leader? or who, among the righteous Pharisees would acknowledge a man who would cond[e]scend to eat with publicans and sinners? This was too much—they could not endure it. An individual teaching the doctrines of the kingdom of heaven, and declaring that that kingdom was nigh, or that it had already come, must appear different from others, or he could not be received. If he were athirst he must not drink, if faint he must not eat, and if weary he must not rest, because he had assumed the authority to teach the world righteousness, and he must be different in manners, and in constitution, if not in form, that all might be attracted by his singular appearance: that his singular demeanor might gain the reverence of the people, or he was an imposter—a false teacher—a wicked man—a sinner—and an accomplice of Beelzebub, the prince of devils!
If singularity of appearance, or difference of manners would command respect, certainly John would have been reverenced, and heard. To see one coming from the wilderness, clad with camels’ hair, drinking neither wine nor strong drink, nor yet eating common food, must have awakened the curiosity of the curious, to the fullest extent. But there was one peculiarity in this man common to every righteous man before him, for which the people hated him, and for which he lost his life—he taught holiness, proclaimed [p. 55] repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, warned the people of the consequences of eniquity, and declared that the kingdom of heaven was at hand—All this was too much! To see one dressed so rediculously eating no common food, neither drinking wine like other men; stepping in advance of the learned and reverend Pharisees, wise doctors, and righteous scribes, and declaring at the same time, that the Lords kingdom would soon appear, could not be borne—he must not teach—he must [not] assume—he must not attempt to lead the people after him—“He hath a devil!”
The Jews were willing, (professedly so) to believe the ancient prophets, and follow the directions of heaven as delivered to the world by them; but when one came teaching the same doctrine, and proclaiming the same things, only that they were nearer, they would not hear. Men say if they could see they would believe, but I have thought the reverse, in this respect—If they cannot see they will believe.
One of two reasons may be assigned as the cause why the messengers of truth have been rejected—perhaps both. The multitude saw their imperfections, or supposed ones, and from that framed an excuse for rejecting them, or else in consequence of the corruption of their own hearts, when reproved, were not willing to repent, but saught to make a man an offender for a word: or for wearing camels hair, eating locusts, drinking wine, or showing friendship to publicans and sinners!
When looking over the sacred scriptures we seem to forget that they were given through men of imperfections, and subject to passions. It is a general belief that the ancient proptets [prophets] were perfect—that no stain, or blemish ever appeared upon their characters while on earth, to be brought forward by the opposer as an excuse for not believing. The same is said of the apostles; but James said that Elias -[Eligah]- was a man subject to like passions as themselves, and yet he had that power with God that in answer to his prayer it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and a half.
There can be no doubt but those to whom he wrote looked upon the ancient prophets as a race of beings superior to any in those days; and in order to be constituted a prophet of God, a man must be perfect in every respect.—
The idea is, that he must be perfect according to their signification of the word. If a people were blessed with prophets, they must be the individuals who were to prescribe the Laws by which they must be governed, even in their private walks. The generation following were ready to suppose, that those men who believed the word of God were as perfect as those to whom it was delivered supposed they must be, and were as forward to prescribe the rules by which they were governed, or rehearse laws and declare them to be the governing principles of the prophets, as though they themse[l]ves held the keys of the mysteries of the heaven, and had searched the archives of the generations of the world.
You will see that I have made mention of the Messiah, of his mission into [p. 56] the world, and of his walk and outward appearance, but do not understand me as attempting to place him on a level with men, or his mission or [on] a parallel with those of the prophets and apostles—far from this. I view his mission such as none other could fill; that he was offered without spot to God a propitiation for our sins; that he rose triumphant and victorious over the grave, and him that has <​the​> power of death.—
This man could not do— It required a perfect sacrafice—man is imperfect— It required a spotless offering—man is not spotless— It required an infinite atonement—man is mortal!
I have, then as you will see, made mention of our Lord, to show that individuals teaching truth, whether perfect or imperfect have been looked upon as the worst of men. and that even our Saviour, the great Shepherd of Israel was mocked and derided, and placed on a parallel with the prince of devils; and the prophets and apostles, though at this day, looked upon as perfect as perfection, were concidered the basest of the human family by those among whom they lived. It is not rumor, though it is wafted by every gale, and retriated [reiterated] by every zephyr, upon which we are to found our judgments of ones merits or demerits: If it is we erect an altar upon which we sacrafice the most perfect of men, and establish a criterion by which the “vilest of the vile” may escape censure.
But lest I weary you with too many remarks upon the history of the past, after a few upon the propriety of a narative of the description I have proposed, I shall proceed.—Editor.
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter III,” December 1834
Letter III.
To Esqr.
Dear Brother:—
after a silence of another month, agreeabley to my my promise I proceed upon the subject I proposed in the first No. of the Advocate. Perhaps an apology for brevity may not be improper, here, as many important incidents consequently transpiring in the organization and establishment <​establishing​> of a society like the one whose history I am about to give to the world, are overlooked or lost, and soon buried with those who were the actors, will prevent my giving those minute and particular reflections which I have so often wished migh[t] have characterized the “Acts of the apostles,” and the ancient Saints.
But such facts as are within my knowledge, will be given without any reference to inconsistencies, in the minds of others [p. 57] or impossibilities, in the feelings of such as do not give credence to the system of salvation and redemption so clearly set forth and so plainly written over the face of the sacred scriptures:
Upon the propriety, then, of a narative of this kind, I have briefly to remark: It is known to you, that this church has suffered reproach and persecution, from a majority of mankind who have heard but a rumor, since its first organization. and further, you are also conversant with the fact, that no sooner had the messengers of the fulness of the gospel began to proclaim its heavenly precepts, and call upon men to embrace the same, than they were vilified and slandered by thousands who never saw their faces, and much less knew aught derogatory of their characters, moral or religious—upon this unfair and unsaint like manner of procedure they have been giving in large sheets their own opinions of the incorrectness of our system, and attested volum[e]s of our lives and characters. Since, then, our opposers have been thus kind to introduce our cause before the public, it is no more than just that a correct account should be given; and since they have invariably sought to cast a shade over the truth, and hinder its influence from gaining ascindency, it is also, proper that it should be vindicated, by laying before the world a correct statement of of events as they have transpired from time to time.
Whether I shall succeed so far in my purpose as to convince the publick of the incorrectness of those scurulous reports which have inundated our land, or even but a small portion of them, will be better ascertained when I close than when I commence; and I am content to submit it before the candid for perusal, & before the Judge of all for inspection, as I most assuredly believe that before Him I must stand and answer for the deeds transacted in this life.
Should I, however, be instrumental in causing a few to hear before they judge, and understand both sides of this matter before they condemn, I shall have the satisfaction of seeing them embrace it as I am certain that one is the inevitable fruit of the other.
But to proceede:
You will recollect that I informed you, in my letter published in the first No. of the Messenger and Advocate, that this history would necessarily embrace the life and character of our esteemed friend and brother, J. Smith jr. one of the presidents of this church, and for information on that part of the [p. 58] subject, I refer you to his communication of the same, published in this paper. I shall, therfore, pass over that till I come to the 15th year of his life.
It is necessary to premise this account by relating the situation of the public mind relative to religion, at this time: one a presiding Elder of the Methodist church, visited , and vicinity. was a talented man possessing a good share of literary endowments, and apparent humility. there was a great awakening, or excitement raised on the subject of religion and much enquiry for the word of life. Large additions were made to the Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist churches. ’s manner of communication was peculiarly calculated to awaken the intellect of the hearer, and arouse the sinner to look about him for safety—much good instruction was always drawn from his discourses on the scriptures, and in common with others, our brother’s mind became awakened.
For a length of time the reformation seemed to move in a harmonious manner, but, as the excitement ceased, or those who had expressed anxieties, had professed a belief in the pardoning influence and condescension of the Saviour a general strugle was made by the leading characters of the different sects, for prosolytes. Then strife seemed to take the place of that apparent union and harmony which had previously characterized the moves and exhortations of the old professors, and a cry—I am right—you are wrong—was introduced in their stead.
In this general strife for followers, his one , and two of his natural brothers, were persuaded to unite with the Presbyterians. This gave opportunity for further reflection; and as will be seen in the sequel, laid a foundation, or was one means of laying a foundation for the attestation of the truths, or professions of truth, contained in that record called the word of God.
After strong solicitations to unite with one of those different societies, and seeing the apparent proselyting disposition manifested with equal warmth from each, his mind was led to more seriously contemplate the importance of a move of this kind. To profess godliness without its benign influence upon the heart, was a thing so foreign from his feelings, that his spirit was not at rest day nor night. To unite with a society professing to be built upon the only sure founda [p. 59]tion, and that profession be a vain one, was calculated, in its verry nature, the more it was contemplated, the more to arouse the mind to the serious consequ[e]nces of moving hastily, in a course fraught with eternal realities. To say he was right, and still be wrong, could not profit; and amid so many, some must be built upon the sand.
In this situation where could he go? if he went to one he was told they were right, and all others were wrong—if to another, the same was heard from those: All professed to be the true church; and if not they were certainly hypocritical, because, if I am presented with a system of religion, and enquire of my teacher whether it is correct, and he informs me that he is not certain, he acknowledges at once that he is teaching without authority, and acting without a commission! If one
If one profess a degree of authority or preference in consequence of age or right, and that superiority was without evidence, it was insufficient to convince a mind once aroused to that degree of determination which at that time operated upon him. And upon fa[r]ther reflecting, that the Saviour had said that the gate was strait and the way narrow that lead to life eternal, and that few entered there; and the way was broad, and the gate wide which lead to destruction, and that many crowded its current, a proof from some source was wanting to settle the mind and give peace to the agitated bosom. It is not frequent that the minds of men are exercised with proper determinations relative to obtaining a certainty of the things of God.— They are too apt to rest short of that assurance which the Lord Jesus has so freely offered in his word to man, and which so beautifully characterizes his whole plan of salvation, as revealed to us.
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter IV,” February 1835
Letter IV.
To , Esqr.
Dear Brother:—
In my last, published in the 3d No. of the Advocate I apologized for the brief manner in which I should be obliged to give, in many instances, the history of this church. Since then yours [p. 60] yours of Christmas has been received, It was not my wish to be understood that I could not give the leading items of every important occurrence. at least so far as would effect my duty to my fellowmen, in such as contained important information upon the subject of doctrine, and as would render it intelligbly plain; but as there are, in a great house, many vessels, so in the history of a work of this magnitude, many items which would be interesting to those who follow, are forgoten. In fact, I deem every manifestation of the Holy Spirit, dictating the hearts of the saints in the way of righteousness, to be of importance, and this is one reason why I plead an apology.
You will recolect that I mentioned the time of a religious excitement, in and vicinity to have been in the 15th year of our brother J. Smith jr’s age—that was an error in the type—it should have been in the 17th.—
You will please remember this correction, as it will be necessary for the full understanding of what will follow in time. This would bring the date down to the year 1823.
I do not deem it to be necessary to write further on the subject of this excitement. It is doubted by many whether any real or essential good ever resulted from such excitements, while others advocate their propriety with warmth.
The mind is easily called up to reflection upon a matter of such deep importance, and it is just that it should be; but there is a regret occupying the heart when we consider the deep anxiety of thousands, who are lead away with a vain imagination, or a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider’s web.
But if others wer not benefited, our brother was urged forward and strengthened in the determination to know for himself of the certainty and reality of pure and holy religion.— And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him the all important information if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him. This, most assuredly, was correct—it was right. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast, that to him who knocks it shall be opened, & whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely.
To deny a humble penitent sinner a refreshing draught from [p. 61] this most pure of all fountains, and most desirable of all refreshments, to a thirsty soul, is a matter for the full performance of which the sacred record stands pledged. The Lord never said— “Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” to turn a deaf ear to those who were weary, when they call upon him. He never said, by the mouth of the prophet “Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters,” without passing it as a firm decree, at the same time, that he that should after come, should be filled with joy unspeakable. Neither did he manifest by the Spirit to John upon the isle— “Let him that is athirst, come,” and command him to send the same abroad, under any other consideration, than that “whosoever would, might take of the water of life freely,” to the remotest ages of time, or while there was a sinner upon his footstool.
These sacred and important promises are looked upon in our day as being given, either to another people, or in a figurative form, and consequently require spiritualizing, notwithstanding they are as conspicuously plain, and are meant to be understood according to their literal reading, as those passages which teaches us of the creation of the world, and of the decree of its Maker to bring its inhabitants to judgment. But to proceed with my narrative.—
On the evening of the 21st of September, 1823, previous to retiring to rest, our brother’s mind was unusually wrought up on the subject which had so long agitated his mind—his heart was drawn out in fervent prayer, and his whole soul was so lost to every thing of a temporal nature, that earth, to him, had lost its charms, and all he desired was to be prepared in heart to commune with some kind messenger who could communicate to him the desired information of his acceptance with God.
At length the family retired, and he, as usual, bent his way, though in silence, where others might have rested their weary frames “locked fast in sleep’s embrace;” but repose had fled, and accustomed slumber had spread her refreshing hand over others beside him—he continued still to pray—his heart, though once hard and obdurate, was softend, and that mind which had often flitted, like the “wild bird of passage,” had settled upon a determined basis not to be decoyed or driven from its purpose.
In this situation hours passed unnumbered—how many or how few I know not, neither is he able to inform me; but supposes it must have been eleven or twelve, and perhaps later, as the noise and bustle of the family, in retiring, had long since [p. 62] ceased.— While continueing in prayer for a manifestation in some way that his sins were forgiven; endeavouring to exercise faith in the scriptures, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a purer and far more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room.— Indeed to use his own description, the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming and unqu[e]nchable fire. This sudden appearance of a light so bright, as must naturally be expected, occasioned a shock or sensation, visible to the extremities of the body. It was, however, followed with a calmness and serenity of mind, and an overwhelming rapture of Joy that surpassed understanding, and in a moment a personage stood before him.
Notwithstanding the room was previously filled with light above the brightness of the sun, as I before describe<​d,​> yet there seemed to be an additional glory surrounding or accompanying this personage, which shone with an increased degree of brilliancy, of which he was in the midst; and though his countenance was as lightning, yet it was of a pleasing, inocent and glorious appearance, so much so, that every fear was banished from the heart, and nothing but calmness pervaded the soul.
It is no easy task to describe the appearance of a messenger from the skies—indeed, I doubt their being an individual clothed with perishable clay, who is capable to do this work. To be sure, the Lord appeared to his apostles after his resurrection, and we do not learn as they were in the least difficultied to look upon him; but from John’s description upon Patmos, we learn that he is there represented as most glorious in appearance; and from other items in the sacred scriptures we have the fact recorded where angels appeared and conversed with men, and there was no difficulty on the part of the individuals, to endure their presence; and others where their glory was so conspicuous that they could not endure. The last description or appearance is the one to which I refer, when I say that it is no easy task to describe their glory.
But it may be well to relate the particulars as far as given[.] The stature of this personage was a little above the common size of men in this age; his garment was perfectly white, and had the appearance of being without seam. [p. 63]
Though fear was banished from his heart, yet his surprise was no less when he heard him declare himself to be a messenger sent by commandment of the Lord, to deliver a special message and to witness to him that his sins were forgiven, and that his prayers were heard; and that the scriptures might be fulfilled, which say— “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things which are that no flesh should glory in his presence. Therefore, says the Lord, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder; the wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent shall be hid; for according to his covenant which he made with his ancient saints, his people, the house of Israel must come to a knowledge of the gospel, and own that Messiah whom their fathers rejected, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles be gathered in, to rejoice in one fold under one Shepherd”.
“This cannot be brought about untill first certain preparatory things are accomplished, for so has the Lord purposed in his own mind. He has therefore chosen you as an instrument in his hand to bring to light that which shall perform his act, his strange act, and bring to pass a marvelous work and a wonder. Wherever the sound shall go it shall cause the ears of men to tingle, and wherever it shall be proclaimed, the pure in heart shall rejoice, while those who draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him, will seek its overthrow, and the destruction of those by whose hands it is carried. Therefore, marvle not if your name is made a derission, and had as a by-word among such, if you are the instrument in bringing it, by the gift of God, to the knowledge of the people.”
He then proceeded and gave a general account of the promises made to the fathers, and also gave a history of the aborigenes of this , and said they were literal descendants of Abraham. He represented them as once being an enlightned and intelligent people, possessing a correct knowledge of the gospel, and the plan of restoration and redemption. He said this history [p. 64] was written and deposited not far from that place, and that it was our brother’s privilege, if obedient to the commandments of the Lord, to obtain and translate the same by the means of the Urim and Thummim, which were deposited for that purpose with the record.
“Yet,” said he, “the scriptures must be fulfilled before it is translated, which says that the words of a book, which were sealed, were presented to the learned; for thus has God determined to leave men without excuse, and show to the meek that his arm is <​not​> shortned that it cannot save.”
A part of the book was sealed, and was not to be opened yet. The sealed part, said he, contains the same revelation which was given to John upon the isles of Patmos, and when the people of the Lord are prepared, and found worthy, then it will be unfolded unto them.
On the subject of bringing to light the unsealed part of this record, it may be proper to say, that our brother was expressly informed, that it must be done with an eye single to the glory of God; if this consideration did not wholly characterize all his procedings in relation to it, the adversary of truth would overcome him, or at least prevent his making that proficiency in this glorious work which he otherwise would.
While describing the place where the record was deposited, he gave a minute relation of it, and the vision of his mind being opened at the same time, he was permitted to view it critically; and previously being acquainted with the place, he was able to follow the direction of the vision, afterward, according to the voice of the angel, and obtain the book.
I close for the present by subscribing myself as ever, your brother in Christ
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter V,” March 1835
Letter V.—
To , Esqr.
Dear Brother:—
Yours of the 6th ult. is received and published in this No. It contains so many questions, that I have thought I would let every man answer [p. 65] for himself; as it would occupy a larger space to answer all of them than would be proper to devote at this time. When I look at the world as it is, and view men as they are, I am not much surprised that they oppose the truth as many, perhaps, and indeed, the more I see the less I marvle on this subject. To talk of heavenly communications, angels’ visits, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, now, since the apostles have fallen asleep, and men interpret the word of God without the aid of either the Spirit or angels, is a novel thing among the wise, and a piece of blasphemy among the craft-men. But so it is, and it is wisdom that it should be so, because the Holy Spirit does not dwell in unholy temples, nor angels reveal the great work of God to hypocrites. You will notice in my last, on rehearsing the words of the angel, where he communicated to our brother—that his sins were forgiven, and that he was called of the Lord to bring to light, by the gift of inspiration, this important inteligence, an item like the following— “God has chosen the foolish things of the world, and things which are dispised, God has chosen;” &c. This, I conceive to be an important item— Not many mighty and noble, were called in ancient times, because they always knew so much that God could not teach them, and a man that would listen to the voice of the Lord and follow the teachings of heaven, always was despised, and concidered to be of the foolish class— Paul prooves this fact, when he says, [“]we are made as the filth of the world—the off-scouring of all things unto this day.”
I am aware, that a rehearsal of visions of angels at this day, is as inconsistent with a portion of mankind as it formerly was, after all the boast of this wise generation in the knowledge of the truth: but there is a uniformity so complete, that on the reflection, one is led to rejoice that it is so.
In my last I gave an imper[f]ect description of the angel, and was oblieged to do so, for the reason, that my pen would fail to des[c]ribe an angel in his glory, or the glory of God. I also gave a few sentences which he uttered on the subject of the gathering of Israel. &c.
Since writing the former, I have thought it would, perhaps, be interesting to give something more full on this important subject, as well as a revelation of the gospel. That these holy personages should feel a deep interest in the accomplis [p. 66]hment of the glorious purposes of the Lord, in his work in the last days, is consistent, when we view critically, what is recorded of their sayings in the holy Scriptures.
You will remember to have read in daniel— “And at that time, -[the last days]- shall Michael stand up, the great prince, who stands for the children of thy people”; and also in Revelations— “I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren the prophets.” Please compare these sayings with that singular expression in Heb. “Are they -[angels]- not all ministering Spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” And then let me ask nine questions: first
Are the angels now in glory, the former prophets and servants of God? secondly: Are they brethren of those who keep his commandments on earth? and thirdly have brethren & fleshly kindred, in the Kingdom of God, feelings of respect and condescension enough to speak to each other, though one may be in heaven and the other on the earth?
Fourthly: If angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for those who shall be heirs of salvation, will they not minister for those heirs? and fifthly, if they do, will any one know it?
Sixthly: will Michael, the archangel, the great prince, stand up in the last days for Israel? Seventhly: will he defend them from their enemies? Eightly, will he lead them, as they were once lead; and ninthly, if so, will he be seen? These questions I leave without answering, because the reasoning is so plain, and so many might be brought, that, they must be at hand in the heart and mind of every saint. But to the gospel, and then to the gathering?
The great plan of redemption being prepared before the fall of man, and the salvation of the human family being as precious in the sight of the Lord at one time as at another, before the Messiah came in the flesh and was crucifyed, as after the gospel was preachd, and many were found obedient to the same. This gospel being the same from the beginning, its ordinances were also unchangable. Men were commanded to repent and be baptised by water in the name of the Lord: and were then blessed with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being thus given, men were enabled to look forward to the time of the coming of the Son of Man, and to rejoice in that day, because through that sacrifice they looked for a remission of their sins, and for their redemption. [p. 67]
Had it not been for this plan of salvation, which God devised before the fall, man must have remained miserable forever, after transgressing the first commandment, because, in consequence of that transgression he had rendered himself unworthy [of] the presence of his Maker. He being therefore cast out, the gospel was preached, and this hope of eternal life was set before him, by the ministering of angels who delivered it as they were commanded.
Not only did the ancients look forward to the time of the coming of the Messiah in the flesh, with delight, but there was another day for which they sought, and for which they prayed. Knowing, as they did, that the fall had brought upon them death, and that man was sensual and evil, they longed for a day when the earth might again rest, and appear as in the beginning—when evil might be unknown upon its face, and all creation enjoy one undisturbed peace for a thousand years.
This being sought for in faith, it pleased the Lord to covenant with them to roll on his purposes untill he should bring it to pass—and though many generations were to be gathered to their fathers, yet the righteous, those who should, in their lives, embrace the gospel, and live obedient to its requirements, rise and inherit it during this reign of peace.
From time to time the faithful servants of the Lord have endeavored to raise up a people who should be found worthy to inherit this rest; (for it was called the rest of the righteous or the day of the Lord’s rest, prepared for the righteous;) but were not able to sanctify them, that they could endure the presence of the Lord, excepting Enoch, who, with his people, for their righteousness, were taken into heaven, with a promise that they should yet see that day when the whole earth should be covered with glory.
Moses labored diligently to effect this object, but in consequence of the transgressions and rebellions of the children of Israel, God swore in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest; and in consequence of this decree, and their transgressions since, they have been scattered to the four winds, and are thus to remain till the Lord gathers them in by his own power.
To a remnant of them the gospel was preachd by the [p. 68] Messiah in person, but they rejected his voice, though it was raised daily among them. The apostles continued to hold forth the same; after the crucifixion & resurection of the Lord Jesus, untill they would hear it no longer; and then they were commanded to turn to the Gentiles.
They however labored faithfully to turn that people from error; that they might be the happy partakers of mercy, and save themselves from the impending storm that hung over them. They were commanded to preach Jesus Christ night and day—to preach through him the resurection from the dead—to preach declare that all who would embrace the gospel, repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins, should be saved—to declare that this was the only sure foundation on which they could build and be safe—that God had again visited his people in consequence of his covenant with their fathers, and that if they would, they might be the first who should receive these glad tidings, and have the unspeakable joy of carrying the same to all people; for before the day of rest comes, it must go to all nations, kindred and toungs.
But in consequence of their rejecting the gospel, the Lord suffered them to be again scattered; their land to be wasted and their beautiful city to be troden down of the Gentiles, untill their time should be fulfilled.
In the last days, to fulfill the promises to the ancient prophets, when the Lord is to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, he has determined to bring to light his gospel, to the Gentiles, that it may go to the house of Israel. This gospel has been perverted and men have wandered in darkness. That commission given to the apostles at Jerusalem, so easy to be understood, has been hid from the world, because of evil, and the honest have been lead by the designing, till there are none to be found who are practising the ordinances of the gospel, as they were anciently delivered.
But the time has now arived, in which, according to his covenants, the Lord will manifest to the faithful that he is the same to-day, and forever, and that the cup of suffering of his people, the house of Israel, is nearly fulfilled; and that the way may be prepared before their face he will bring to the knowledge of the people the gospel, as it is was preached [p. 69] by his servants on this land, and manifest to the obedient the truth of the same, by the power of the Holy Spirit; for the time is near when his sons and daughters will prophesy, old men dream dreams, and young men see vissions, and those who are thus favored will be such as embrace the gospel as it is was delivered in old times, and they shall be blessed with signs following.
Farther on the subject of the gathering of Israel.— This was perfectly understood by all the ancients prophets. Moses prophesied of the affliction which should come upon that people even after the coming of the Messiah, where he said: and evil will befall you in the latter days; <​because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord​> to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands. connecting this with a prophecy in the song which follows; which was given to Moses in the tabernacle—remembering the expression—“in the latter days”—where the Lord foretels all their evil, and their being received to mercy, to such as seek the peace of Israel much instruction may be gained. It is as follows:—
[“]I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend my arrows upon them. They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling with the man of gray hairs.”
But after all this, he will judge their enemies and avenge them of theirs; for he says:
“if I whet my glettering sword, and my hand take hold on judgment, I will render vengance to my enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh.”
After all this—after Israel has been restored, and afflicted and his enemies have also be[e]n chastised, the Lord says: [“]Rejoice O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land and to his people.”
I will give a fu[r]ther detail of the promises to Israel, hereafter, as rehearsed by the angel. Accept assurance of my esteem as ever. [p. 70]
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VI,” April 1835
Letter VI.
To , Esqr.
Dear Sir:—
Yours of the 24th February is received and inserted in this No. of the Advocate When reviewing my letter No. 3, I am lead to conclude, that some expressions contained in it are calculated to call up past scenes, and perhaps, paint them to the mind, in a manner differently than otherwise were it not that you can speak from experiance of their correctness.
I have not space you know, to go into every particular item noticed in yours, as <​that​> would call my attention too far or too much, from the great object lying before me,— the history of this church;— but one expression, or quotation contained in your last strikes the mind (and I may add—the heart,) with so much force, that I cannot pass without noticing it: It is a line or two from that little book contained in the Old Testament, called “Ruth.” It says:
[“]Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge, thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.”
There is a something breathed in this, not known to the world. The great, as many are called, may profess friendship, and covenant to share in each other’s toils, for honors and riches of this life, but it is not like the sacrifice offered by Ruth. She forsook her friends, she left her nation, she longed not for the altars of her former gods, and why? because Israels God was God indeed? and by joining herself to Him a reward was offered, and an inheritance promised with him when the earth was sanctified, and peoples, nations and toungs serve him acceptably? And the same covenant of Ruth’s, whispers the same assurance in the same promises, and the same knowled[g]e of the same God.
There is a something breathed in this, not known to the world. The great, as many are called, may
I gave, in my last, a few words, on the subject of a few items, as spoken by the angel at the time the knowledge of the record of the Nephites was communicated to our [p. 71] brother, and in consequence of the subject of the gospel and that of the gathering of Israel’s being so connected, I found it difficult to speak of the one without mentioning the other; and this may not be improper, as it is evident, that the Lord has decreed to bring forth the fulness of the gospel in the last days, previous to gathering Jacob, but a preparatory work, and the other is to follow in quick succession.
This being of so much importance, and of so deep interest to the sainst [saints], I have thought best to give a farther detail of the heavenly message, and if I do not give it in the precise words, shall strictly confine myself to the facts in substance.
David said, (Ps. C.) make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands, that is, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. This he said in view of the glorious period for which he often prayed, and was anxious to behold, which he knew could not take place untill the knowledge of the glory of God covered all lands, or all the earth. Again he says, (Ps. 107) O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: For his mercy endureth forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from the hand of the enemy; and gathered out of the lands from the east, and from the west from the north and from the south.— They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their souls fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses; and led them in the right way that they might go to the city of habitations.
Most clearly was it shown to the prophets, that the righteous should be gathered from all the earth: He knew that the children of Israel were led from Egypt, by the right hand of the Lord, and permitted to possess the land of Canaan, though they were rebellious in the desert but the farther knew, that they were not gathered from the east, the west, the north and the south, at that time; for it was clearly manifested that the [p. 72] Lord himself would prepare a habitation, even as he said, when he would lead them to a city of refuge In that, David saw a promise for the righteous, -[see 144. Ps]- when they should be delivered from those who oppressed them, and from the hand of strange children, or the enemies of the Lord; that their sons should be like plants grown up in their youth, and their daughters like corner-stones, polished after the similitude of <​a​> beautiful palace. It is then that the sons and daughters shall prophesy, old men dreams dreams, and young men see visions. At that time the garners of the righteous will be full, affording all manner of store. It was while contemplating this time, and viewing this happy state of the righteous, that he further says: The Lord shall reign forever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations—Praise ye the Lord!
Isaiah who was on the earth at the time the ten tribes of Israel were led away captive from the land of canaan, was shown, not only their calamity and affliction, but the time w[h]en they were to be delivered. After reproving them for their corruption and blindness, he prophesies of their dispersion. He says, Your country is desolate, your cities are burnt with fire: Your land strangers devour in your presence and it is thus made desolate, being overthrown by strangers. He further says while speaking of the iniquity of that people. Thy princes are rebellious and companions of thieves: every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards: They judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come unto them. Therefore, says the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of my adversaries, and avenge me of my enemies. But after this calamity has befallen Israel, and the Lord has poured upon them his afflicting judgments, as he said by the mouth of Moses— I will heap mischiefs upon them I will spend my arrows upon them.— They shall be afflicted with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter distruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the earth— he will also fulfill this [p. 73] further prediction uttered by the mouth of Isaiah. I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take way all thy tin: and I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward you shall be called, the city of righteousness, the faithful city. Then will be fulfilled, also, the sayings of David: And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.
Isaiah continues his prophecy concerning Israel, and tells them what would be done for them in the last days; for thus it is written: The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Juda and Jerusalem. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills;— and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’s Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.— And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up the sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. And the Lord will creat[e] upon every dwelling place of his people in Zion, and upon their assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence, or above, shall be a covering and a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place or refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain. And his people shall dwell safely, they shall possess the land forever, even the land which was promised to their fathers for an everlasting inheritance: for behold, says the Lord by the mouth of the prophet: The day will come that I will sow the house of Israel with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and <​and to throw down and to destroy and​> to afflict; so will I watch over them, to [p. 74] build and to plant, says the Lord.
For this happy situation and blessed state of Israel, did the prophets took [look], and obtained a promise, that, though the house of Israel and Juda, should violate the covenant, the Lord in the last days would make with them a new one: not according to the one which he made with their fathers in the day that he took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; which said the Lord, my covenant they broke, although I was a husband and a father unto them: but this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel: After those days, says the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
For thus says the Lord, I will bring again the captivity of Jacob’s tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; and the city shall be builded upon her own heap, and the palace shall remain after the manner there of. And out of them shall procede thanksgiving, and the voice of them that make merry:— and I will multiply them and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them and they shall not be small. Their and they shall children also shall be as afore time, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that opress them. Their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall procede from the midst of them.
At the same time, says the Lord, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people; I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth; I will say to the north Give up, and to the south, Keep not back:— bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth.
And in those days, and at that time, says the Lord though Israel and Juda have been driven and scattered, they shall come together, they shall even come weeping: for with supplications will I lead them: they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion, with their faces thitherward, [p. 75] and say, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgoten; and watchman <​watchmen​> upon Mount Ephraim shall say, arise, and let us go up to Zion, unto the holy Mount of the Lord our God; for he will teach us of his ways, and instruct us to walk in his paths. That the way for this to be fully accomplished, may be prepared, the Lord will utterly destroy the toung of the Egyptian sea, and with his mighty wind shake his hand over the river[,] smite it in its seven streams, and make men go over dry-shod. And there shall be a high way for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel when they came up out of the land of Egypt.
And thus shall Israel come: not a dark corner of the earth shall remain unexplored, nor an Island of the seas be left without being visited; for as the Lord has said removed them into all corners of the earth, he will cause his mercy to be as abundantly manifested in their gathering as his wrath in their dispersion, untill they are gathered according to the covenant.
He will, as he said by the prophet, send for them many fishers and they shall fish them; and after will I send for many hunters, who shal hunt them; not as their enemies have to afflict, but with glad tidings of great joy, with a message of peace, and a call for their return.
And it will come to pass, that though the house of Israel has forsaken the Lord, and bowed down and worshiping other gods, which were no gods, and been cast out before the face of the world, they will know the voice of the Shepherd when he calls upon them this time; for soon his day of power comes, and in it his people will rejoice be willing to harken to his counsel; and even now are they already beginning to be stired up in their hearts to search for these things, and are daily reading the anci[e]nt prophets, and are marking the times, and seasons of their fulfilment. Thus God is preparing the way for their return.
But it is necessary that you should understand, that what is to be fulfilled in the last days, Is not [p. 76] only for the benefit of Israel, but the Gentiles, if they will repent and embrace the gospel, for they are to be remembered also in the same covenant, and are to be fellow heirs with thee seed of Abraham, inasmuch as they are so by faith—for God is no respecter to persons. This was shown to Moses, when he wrote— Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people!
In consequence of the transgression of the Jews at the coming of the Lord, the Gentiles were called into the kingdom, and for this obediance, are to be favored with the gospel in its fulness first, in the last days; for it is written The first shall be last, and the last first. Therefore, when the fulness of the gospel, as was preached by the rigteous, upon this land, shall come forth, it shall be declared to the Gentiles first, and whoso will repent shall be delivered, for they shall understand the plan of salvation and restoration for Israel, as the Lord manifested to the ancients.— They shall be baptised with water and with the Spirit— they shall lift up their hearts with joy and gladness, for the time of their redemption shall also roll on, and for their obediance to the faith they shall see the house of Jacob come with great glory, even with songs of everlasting joy, and with him partake of salvation.
Therefore, as the time draws near when the sun is to be darkened, the moon turned to blood, and the stars fall from heaven, the Lord will bring to the knowledge of his people his commandments and statutes, that they may be prepared to stand when the earth shall reel to and fro as a drunken man, earthquakes cause the nations to tremble, and the destroying angel goes forth to waste the inhabitance at noon-day: for so great are to be the calamities which are to come upon the inhabitants of the earth, before the coming of the Son of Man the second time, that w[h]oso is not prepared cannot abide; but such as are found faithful, and remain, shall be gathered with his people and caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds, and so shall they inherit eternal life.
I have now given you a rehearsal of what was communicated to our brother, when he was directed to go and obtain [p. 77] the record of the Nephites. I may have missed in arrangement in some instances, but the principle is preserved, and you will be able to bring forward abundance of corroborating scripture upon the subject of the gospel and of the gathering.
You are aware of the fact, that to give a minute rehearsal of a lengthy interview with a heavenly messenger, is verry difficult unless one is assisted immediately with the gift of inspiration. There is another item I wish to notice on the subject of visions. The Spirit you know, searches all things, even the deep things of God. When God manifests to his servants those things that are to come, or those which have been, he does it by unfolding them by the power of that Spirit which comprehends all things, always; and so much may be shown and made perfectly plain to the understanding in a short time, that to the world, who are ocupied all their life to learn a little, look at the relation of it, and are disposed to call it false. You will understand then, by this, that while those glorious things were being rehearsed, the vision was also opened, so that our brother was permitted to see and understand much more full<​y​> and perfect<​ly​> than I am able to communicate in writing. I know much may <​be​> conveyed to the understanding in writing, and many marvellous truths set forth with the pen, but after all it is but a shadow, compared to an open vision of seeing, hearing and realizing eternal things. And if the fact was known, it would be found, that of all the heavenly communications to the ancients, we have no more in comparison than the alphabet to a quarto vocabulary. It is said, and I believe the account, that the Lord showd the brother of Jared (Moriancumer) all things which were to transpire from that day to the end of the earth, as well as those which had taken place. I believe that Moses was permitted to see the same, as the Lord caused them to pass, in vission before him as he stood upon the mount; I believe that the Lord Jesus told many things to his apostles which are not written, and after his ascension unfolded all things unto them; I believe that Nephi, the son of Lehi, whom the Lord brought out of Jerusalem, saw the same; I believe that the twelve upon this continent, whom the Lord chose to preach his gospel, when he came down to manifest to this branch of the house of Israel, [p. 78] that he had other sheep, who should hear his voice, were also permitted to behold the same mighty things transpire in vision before their eyes; and I believe that the angel Moroni, whose words I have been rehearsing, w[h]o communicated the knowledge of the record of the Nephites, in this age, saw also, before he hid up the same unto the Lord, great and marvelous things, which were to transpire when the same should come forth; and I also believe, that God will <​give​> line upon line precept upon precept to his saints, until all these things will be unfolded to them, and they finally sanctified and brought into the Celestial glory, where tears will be wiped from all faces, and sighing and sorrowing flee away!
May the Lord preserve you from evil and reward you richly for all your afflictions, and crown you in his kingdom. Amen.
Accept, as ever, assurances of the fellowship and esteem of your unworthy brother in the gospel.
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VII,” July 1835
Letter VII.
To , Esqr.
Dear Brother:—
Circumstances having heretofore intervened to prevent my addressing you previously upon the history of this church you will not attribute the neglect to any want on my part, of a disposition to prosecute a subject so dear to me and so important to every saint, living as we do in the day when the Lord has began to fulfill his covenants to his long-dispersed and afflicted people.
Since my last yours of May and June have been received. It will not be expected that I shall digress so far from my object, as to go into particular explanations on different items contained in yours; but as all men are deeply interested on the great matter of revelation, I indulge a hope that you will present such facts as are plain and uncontrovertible, both from our former scriptures and the book of Mormon, [p. 79] to show that such is not only consistent with the character of the Lord, but absolutely necessary to the fulfilment of that sacred volume, so tenaciously admired by professors of religion—I mean that called the bible.
You have, no doubt, ase well as myself, frequently heard those who do not pretend to an “experimental” belief in the Lord Jesus, says, with those who do, that, (to use a familiar phrase,) “any tune can be played upon the bible:”— What is here meant to be conveyed, I suppose, is, that proof can be adduced from that volum[e], to support as many different systems as men please to choose: one saying this is the way, and the other, this is the way, while the third says, that it is all false, and that he can “play this tune upon it.” If this is so, alas for our condition: admit this to be the case, and either wicked and designing men have taken from it those plain and easy items, or it never came from Deity, if that Being is perfect and consistent in his ways.
But although I am ready to admit that men, in previous generations, have with polluted hands and corrupt hearts, taken from the sacred oracles many precious items which were plain of comprehension, for the main purpose of building themselves up in the trifling things of this world, yet, when it is carefully e[x]amined a straight forward consistency will be found, sufficient to check the vicious heart of man and teach him to revere a word so precious, handed down to us from our fathers, teaching us that by faith we can approach the same benevolent Being, and receive for ourselves a sure word of prophecy, which will serve as a light in a dark place, to lead to those things within the vail, where peace, righteousness and harmony, in one uninterrupted round, feast the inhabitants of those blissful regions in endless day.
Scarce can the reflecting mind be brought to contemplate these scenes, without asking, for whom are they held in reserve, and by whom are they to be [p. 80] enjoyed? Have we an interest there? Do [illegible] our fathers, who have waded through affliction and adversity, who have been cast out from the society of this world, whose tears have, times without number, watered their, furrowed faces, while mourning over the corruption of their fellow-men, an inheritance in those mansions? If so, can they without us be made perfect? Will their joy be full till we rest with them? And is their efficacy and virtue sufficient, in the blood of a Saviour, who groaned upon Calvary’s summit, to expiate our sins and cleans us from all unrighteousness? I trust, that as individuals acquainted withe the gospel, through repentance, baptism and keeping the commandments of that same Lord, we shall eventually, be brought to partake in the fulness of that which we now only participate—the full enjoyment of the presence of our Lord.
Happy indeed, will be that hour to all saints, and above all to be desired, (for it never ends,) when men will again mingle praise with those who do always behold the face of our Father who is in heaven.
You will remember that in my last I brought my subject down to the evening, or night of the 21st of September, 1823, and gave an outline of the conversation of the angel upon the important fact of the blessings, promises and covenants to Israel, and the great manyifestations of favor to the world, in the ushering in of the fulness of the gospel, to prepare the way for the second advent of the Messiah, when he comes in the glory of the Fathers with the holy angels.
A remarkable fact is to be noticed with <​regard​> to this vision. In ancient times the Lord warned some of his servants in dreams: for instance, Joseph, the husband of Mary, was warned in a dream to take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt: also, the wise men were warned of the Lord in a dream not to return to Herod; and when “out of <​Egypt​> the Son was called” the angel of the Lord appeard in a dream to Joseph again: [p. 81] also he was warned in a dream to turn aside into the parts of Galilee. Such were the manifestations to Joseph, the favoured descendant of the father of the faithful in dreams, and in them the Lord fulfilled his purposes: But the one of which I have been speaking is what would have been called an open vision. And though it was in the night, yet it was not a dream. There is no room for conjecture in this matter, and to talk of deception would be to sport with the common sense of every man who knows when he is awake, when he sees and when he does not see.
He could not have been decieved in the fact that a being of some kind appeared to him; and that it was an heavenly one, the fulfillment of his words, so minutely, up to this time, in addition to the truth and word of salvation which has been developed to this generation, in the book of Mormon, ought to be conclusive evidence to the mind of every man who is priveleged to hear of the same. He was awake, and in solem prayer, as you will bear in mind, when the angel made his appearance; from that glory which surrounded him the room was lit up to a perfect brilliancy, so that darkness wholly disappeared: he heard his words with his ears, and recieved a joy and happiness indiscribable by hearing that his own sins were forgiven, and his former transgressions to be remembered against him no more, if he then continued to walk before the Lord according to his holy commandments. He also saw him depart, the light and glory withdraw, leaving a calmness and peace of soul past the language of man to paint—was he deceived?
Far from this; for the vision was renewed twice before morning, unfolding farther and still farther the mysteries of godliness and those things to come. In the morning he went. to his labour as us[u]al, but soon the vision of the heavenly messenger was renewed, [p. 82] instructing him to go immediately and view those things of which he had been informed, with a promise that he should obtain them if he followed the directions and went with an eye single to the glory of God.
Accordingly he repaired to the place which had thus been described. But it is necessary to give you more fully the express instructions of the angel, with regard to the object of this work in which our brother had now engaged— He was to remember that it was the work of the Lord, to fulfil certain promises previously made to a branch of the house of Israel, of the tribe of Joseph, and when it should be brought forth must be done expressly with an eye, as I said before, single to the glory of God, and the welfare and restoration of the house of Israel.
You will understand, then, that no motive of a pecuniary, or earthly nature, was to be suffered to take the lead of the heart of the man thus favoured. The allurements of vice, the contaminating influence of wealth, without the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit, must have no place in the heart nor be suffered to take from it that warm desire for the glory and kingdom of the Lord, or instead of obtaining, disapointment and reproof would most assuredly follow. Such was the instruction and this the caution.
Alternately, as we could naturally expect, the thought of the previous vision was ruminating in his mind, with a reflection of the brightness and glory of the heavenly messenger; but again a thought would start across the mind on the prospects of obtaining so desirable a treasure—one in all human probibility sufficient to raise him above a level with the common earthly fortunes of his fellow men, and relieve his family from want, in which, by misfortune and sickness they were placed.
It is verry natural to suppose that the mind would revolve upon those scenes which had passed, when those who had acquired a little of this world’s goods, by industry and economy, with the blessings of health or friends, or by art and intrigue [p. 83] from the pockets of the day-labourer, or the widow and the fatherless, had passed by with a stif neck and a cold heart, scorning the virtuous because they were poor, and Lording over those who were subjected to suffer the miseries of this life.
Alternately did these, with a swift reflection of the words of the holy messenger,—“Remember, that he who does this work, who is thus favored of the Lord, must do it with his eye single to the glory of the same, and the welfare and restoration of the scattered remnants of the house of Israel”—rush upon his mind with the quickness of electricity. Here was a strugle indeed; for when he calmly reflected upon his errand, he knew that if God did not give, he could not obtain; and again, with the thought or hope of obtaining, his mind would be carried back to its former reflections of poverty, abuce,— wealth, grandure and ease, until before arriving at the place described, this wholly occupied his desires; and when he thought upon the fact of what was previously shown him, it was only with an assurance that he should obtain, and accomplish his desires in relieving himself and friends from want.
A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus, must be interesting to every man; and as it would develope the important fact, that the present race were descendants of Abraham, and were to be remembered in the immutable covenant of the Most High to that man, and be restored to a knowledge of the gospel, that they, with all nations might rejoice, seemed to inspire further thoughts of gain and incom[e] from such a valuable history. Surely, thought he every man will sieze with eagerness, this knowledge, and this incalculable incom will be mine. Enough to raise the expectations of any one of like inexperience, placed in similar circumstances. But the important point in this matter is, that man does not see as the Lord, neither are his purposes like his. The small things of this life are but dust in comparison with salvation [p. 84] and eternal life.
Alternately did these, It is sufficient to say that such were his reflections during his walk of from two to three miles: the distance from his ’s house to the place pointed out. And to use his own words it seemed as though two invisible powers were influencing or striving to influence his mind—one with the reflection that if he obtained the object of his pursuit, it would be through the mercy and condescention of the Lord, and that every act or performance in relation to it, must be in strict according accordance with the instruction of that personage, who communicated the inteligence to him first; and the other with the tho’ts and reflections like those previously mentioned—contrasting his former and present circumstances in life with those to come. That precious instruction recorded on the sacred page—pray always—which was expresly impressed upon him, was at length entirely forgotten, and as I previously remarked, a fixed determination to obtain and agrandize himself, ocupied his mind when he arrived at the place where the record was found.
I must now give you some description of the place where, and the manner in which these records were deposited.
You are acquainted with the mail road from , Wayne Co. to , Ontario Co. N.Y. and also, as you pass from the former to the latter place, before arriving at the little village of , say from three to four, or about four miles from , you pass a large hill on the east side of the road. Why I say large, is because it is as large perhaps, as any in that country. To a person acquainted with this road, a description would be unnecessary, as it is the largest and rises the highest of any on that rout. The north end rises quite sudden until it assumes a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may say an elevation higher than at the south a short distance, say half or three fourths of a mile. As you pass toward it lessens gradually until the surface assumes [p. 85] a level with the more southerly extremity, and I think I may, its common level, or is broken by other smaller hills or ridges, water courses and ravines. I think I am justified in saying that this is the highest hill for some distance round, and I am certain that its appearance, as it rises so suddenly from a plain on the north, must attract the notice of the traveller as he passes by.
At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former, leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country, and under a state of cultivation, which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaredites and Nephites were destroyed.
By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the book of Mormon you will read Mormon’s account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah. (it is printed Camorah, which is an error.) In this vally fell the remaining strength and pride of a once powerful people, the Nephites—once so highly favored of the Lord, but at that time in darkness, doomed to suffer extermination by the hand of their barbarous and uncivilized brethren. From the top of this hill, Mormon, with a few others, after the battle, gazed with horror upon the mangled remains of those who, the day before, were filled with anxiety, hope or doubt. A few had fled to the South, who were hunted down by the victorious party, and all who would not deny the Saviour and his religion, were put to death. Mormon himself, according to the record of his son Moroni, was also slain.
But a long time previous to this disaster it appears from his own account, he foresaw approaching destruction. In fact, if he perused the records of his fathers, [p. 86] which were in his possession, he could have learned that such would be the case. Alma, who lived before the coming of the Messiah, prophesies this. He, however, by divine appointment, abridged from those records, in his own style and language, a short account of the more important and prominent items, from the days of Lehi to his own time, after which he deposited, as he says, on the 529th page, all the records in this same hill, Cumorah and after gave his small record to his son Moroni, who, as appears from the same, finished, after witnessing the extinction of his people as a nation.
It was not the wicked who overcame the righteous; far from this: it was the wicked against the wicked, and by the wicked the wicked were punished.— The Nephites who were once enlightened, had fallen from a more elevated standing as to favour and privilege before the Lord in consequence of the righteousness of their fathers, and now falling below, for such was actually the case, were suffered to be overcome, and the land was left to the possession of the red men, who were without inteligence, only in the affairs of their wars; and having no records, only preserving their history by tradition from father to son, lost the account of their true origin, and wandered from river to river, from hill to hill, from mountain to mountain, and from sea to sea, till the land was again peopled, in a measure, by a rude, wild, revengful, warlike and barbarous race.— Such are our indians.
This hill, by the Jaredites, was called Ramah: by it, or around it pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents. Coriantumr was the last king of the Jaredites The opposing army were to the west, and in this same vally, and near by, from day to day, did that mighty race spill their blood, in wrath, contending, as it were, brother against brother, and father, against son. In this same spot, in full view from the top of this same hill, one may gaze with astonishment upon the ground which was twice covered with the dead and dying of our fellow men. Here may be seen where once sunk to nought the pride and strength of two mighty nations; and here [p. 87] may be contemplated, in solitude, while nothing but the faithful record of Mormon and Moroni is now extant to inform us of the fact, scenes of misery and distress—the aged, whose silver locks in other places and at other times would command reverence; the mother, who in other circumstances would be spared from violence; the infant, whose tender cries would be regarded and listened to with a feeling of compassion and tenderness; and the virgin, whose grace, beauty and modesty, would be esteemed and held inviolate by all good men and enlightened and civilized nations, alike disregarded and treated with scorn!—in vain did the hoary head and man of gray hairs ask for mercy; in vain did the mother plead for compassion; in vain did the helpless and harmless infant weep for verry anguish, and in vain did the virgin seek to escape the ruthless hand of revengeful foes and demons in human form—all alike were trampled down by the feet of the strong, and crushed beneath the rage of battle and war! Alas, who can reflect upon the last struggles of great and populous nations, sinking to dust beneath the <​hand of Justice and retribution without​> weeping over the corruptions of the human heart, and sighing for the hour when the clangor of arms shall no more be heard, nor the calamities of contending armies no more experience<​d​> for a thousand years? Alas, the calamities calamity of war, the extinction of nations, the ruin of kingdoms, the fall of empires and the disolution of governments! O the misery, distress and evil attendant on these! Who can contemplate like scenes without sorrowing, and who so destitute of commiseration as not to be pained that man has fallen so low, so far beneath the station in which he was created?
In this vale lie commingled, in one mass of ruin the ashes of thousands, and in this vale was destined to consume the fair forms and vigerous systems of tens of thousands of the human race—blood mixed with blood, flesh with flesh, bones with bones and dust with dust! When the vital spark which [p. 88] animated their clay had fled, each lifeless lump lay on one common level—cold and inanimate. Those bosoms which had burned with rage against each other for real or suposed injury, had now ceased to heave with malice; those arms which were, a few moments before nerved with strength, had alike become paralized and those hearts which had been fired with revenge, had now ceased to beat, and the head to think—in silence, in solitude, and in disgrace alike, they have long since turned to earth, to their mother dust, to await the august, and to millions, awful hour, when the trump of the Son of God shall echo and reecho from the skies, and they come forth, quickened and immortalized, to not only stand in each other’s presence, but before the bar of him who is Eternal!
with sentiments of pure respect, I conclude by subscribing myself, your brother in the gospel,
Oliver Cowdery, “Letter VIII,” October 1835
Letter VIII.
Dear ,—
In my last I said I should give, partially, a “description of the place where, and the manner in which these records were deposited:” the first promise I have fulfilled, and must proceed to the latter:
The hill of which I have been speaking, at the time mentioned, presented a varied appearance: the north end rose suddenly from the plain, forming a promontory without timber, but covered with grass. As you passed to the south you soon came to scattering timber, the surface having been cleared by art or by wind; and a short distance further left, you are surrounded with the common forest of the country. It is necessary to observe, that even the part cleared was only occupied for pasturage, its steep ascent and narrow summit not admitting the plow of the husbandman, with any degree of [p. 89] ease or profit. It was at the second mentioned place where the record was found to be deposited, on the west side of the hill, not far from the top down its side; and when visited the place in the year 1830, there were several trees standing: enough to cause a shade in summer, but not so much as to prevent the surface being covered with grass—which was also the case when the record was first found.
Whatever may be the feeling of men on the reflection of past acts which have been performed on certain portions or spots of this earth, I know not, neither does it add or diminish to nor from the reality of my subject. When Moses heard the voice of God, at the foot of Horeb, out of the burning bush, he was commanded to take his shoes off his feet, for the ground on which he stood was holy. The same may be observed when Joshua beheld the “Captain of the Lord’s host” by Jericho— And I confess that my mind was filled with many reflections; and though I did not then loose my shoe, yet with gratitude to God did I offer up the sacrifice of my heart.
How far below the surface these records were placed by Moroni, I am unable to say; but from the fact they had been some fourteen hundred years buried, and that too on the side of a hill so steep, one is ready to conclude that they were some feet below, as the earth would naturally wear more or less in that length of time. But they being placed toward the top of the hill, the ground would not remove as much as at two-thirds, perhaps. Another circumstance would prevent a wearing away of the earth: in all probibility, as soon as timber had time to grow, the hill was covered, after the Nephites were destroyed, and the roots of the same would hold the surface. However, on this point I shall leave every man to draw his own conclusion, and form his own speculation, as I only promised to give a description of the place at the time the records were found [p. 90] in 1823.— It is sufficient for my present purpose, to know, that such is the fact: that in 1823, yes, 1823, a man with whom I have had the most intimate and personal acquaintance, for almost seven years, actually discovered by the vision of God, the plates from which the book of Mormon, as much as much as it is disbelieved, was translated! Such is the case, though men rack their verry brains to invent falshood, and then waft them upon every breeze, to the contrary notwithstanding.
I have now given sufficent on the subject of the hill Cumorah—it has a singular and imposing appearance for that country, and must ex[c]ite the curiosity curious enquiry of every lover of the book of Mormon: though I hope never like Jerusalem and the sepulcher of our Lord, the pilgrims. In my estimation, certain places are dearer to me for what they now contain than for what they have contained. For the satisfaction of such as believe I have been thus particular, and to avoid the question being a thousand times asked, more than any other cause, shall procede and be as particular as heretofore. The manner in which the plates were deposited:
First, a hole of sufficient depth, (how deep I know not) was dug. At the bottom of this was laid a stone of suitable size, the upper surface being smooth. At each edge was placed a large quantity of cement, and into this cement, at the four edges of this stone, were placed, erect, four others, their bottom edges resting in the cement at the outer edges of the first stone. The four last named, when placed erect, formed a box, the corners, or where the edges of the four came in contact, were also cemented so firmly that the moisture from without was prevented from entering. It is to be observed, also, that the inner surface of the four erect, or side stones was smoothe. This box was sufficiently large to admit a breast-plate, such as was used by the ancients to defend the chest, &c. from the arrows and weapons of their enemy. From the bottom of the box, or from the breast-plate, arose three small pillars composed of the same description of cement used on the edges; and upon these three pillars was [p. 91] placed the record of the children of Joseph, and of a people who left the tower far, far before the days of Joseph, or a sketch of each, which had it not been for this, and the never failing goodness of God, we might have perished in our sins, having been left to bow down before the altars of the Gentiles and to have paid homage to the priests of Baal! I must not forget to say that this box, containing the record was covered with another stone, the bottom surface being flat and the upper, crowning. But those three pillars were not so lengthy as to cause the plates and the crowning stone to come in contact. I have now given you, according to my promise, the manner in which this record was deposited; though when it was first visited by our brother, in 1823, a part of the crowning stone was visible above the surface while the edges were concealed by the soil and grass, from which circumstances you will see, that however deep this box might have been placed by Moroni at first, the time had been sufficient to wear the earth so that it was easily discovered when once directed, and yet not enough to make a perceivable difference to the passer-by. So wonderful are the works of the Almighty, and so far from our finding out are his ways, that one who trembles to take his holy name into his lips, is left to wonder at his exact providences, and the fulfilment of his purposes in the event of times and seasons.
A few years sooner might have found even the top stone concealed, and discouraged our brother from attempting to make a further trial to obtain this rich treasure, for fear of discovery; and a few latter might have lef[t] the small box uncovered, and exposed its valuable contents to the rude calculations and vain speculations of those who neither understand common language nor fear God.
But such would have been contra[r]y to the words of the ancients and the promises made to them: and this is why I am left to admire the works and see the wisdom in the designs of the Lord [p. 92] in all things manifested to the eyes of the world: they show that all human inventions are like the vapors, while his word endures forever and his promises to the last generation.
Having thus digressed from my main subject to give a few items for the special benefit of all, it will be necessary to return, and proceed as formerly.—
And if any suppose I have indulged too freely in reflections, I will only say that it is my opinion, were one to have a view of the glory of God which is to cover Israel in the last days, and know that these, though they may be thought small things, were the beginning to effect the same, they would be at a loss where to close, should they give a moment’s vent to the imaginations of the heart
You will have woundered, perhaps, that the mind of our brother should be occupied with the thoughts of the goods of this world, at the time of arriving at Cumorah, on the morning of the 22nd of September, 1823, after having been rapt in the visions of heaven during the night, and also seeing and hearing in open day; but the mind of man is easily turned, if it is not held by the power of God through the prayer of faith, and you will remember that I have said that two invisible powers were operating upon his mind during his walk from his residence to Chumorah, and that the one urging the certainty of wealth and ease in this life, had so powerfully wrought upon him, that the great object so carefully and impressively <​named by the angel had entirely​> gone from his recollection that only a fixed determination to obtain now urged him forward. In this, which occasioned a failure to obtain, at that time, the record, do not understand me to attach blame to our brother: he was young, and his mind easily turned from correct principles, unless he could be favoured with a certain round of experience. And yet, while young, untraditionated and <​un​>taught in the systems of the world, he was in a situation to be lead into the great work of God, and be qualified to [p. 93] perform it in due time.
After arriving at the repository, a little exertion in removing the soil from the edges of the top of the box, and a light pry, brought to his natural vision its contents. No sooner did he behold this sacred treasure than his hopes were renewed, and he supposed his success certain; and without first attempting to take it from its long place of deposit, he thought, perhaps, there might be something more, equally as valuable, and to take only the plates, might give others an opertunity of obtaining the remainder, which could he secure, would still add to his store of wealth. These, in short, were his reflections, without once thinking of the solemn instruction of the heavenly messenger, that all must be done with an express view of glorifying God.
On attempting to take possession of the records a shock was produced upon his system, by an invisible power, which deprived him in a measure, of his natural strength. He desisted for an instant, and then made another attempt, but was more sensibly shocked than before. What was the occasion of this he knew not—there was the pure unsulied record, as had been described—he had heard of the power, of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth, and suposed that physical exertion and personal strength was only necessary to enable him to yet obtain the object of his wish. He therefore made the third attempt with an increased exertion, when his strength failed him more than at either of the former times, and without premeditation he exclaimed, “why can I not obtained this book?” [“]because you have not kept the commandments of the Lord”, answered a voice, within a seeming short distance. He looked, and to his astonishment, there stood the angel who had previously given him the directions concerning this matter. [p. 94] In an instant, all the former instructions, the great inteligence concerning Israel and the last days, were brought to his mind: he thought of the time when his heart was fervently engaged in prayer to the Lord, when his spirit was contrite, and when his holy message messenger, from the skies unfold[ed] the wonderful things connected with this record. He had come, to be sure, and found the word of the angel fully fullfilled concerning the reality of the record but he had failed to remember the great end for which they had been kept, and in consequence could not have power to take them into his possession and bear them away.
At that instant he looked to the Lord in prayer, and as he prayed darkness began to disperse from his mind and his soul was lit up as it was the evening before, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit; and again did the Lord manifest his condescension and mercy: the heavens were opened and the glory of the Lord shone round about and rested upon him. While he thus stood gazing and admiring, the angel said, “Look!” and as he thus spake he beheld the prince of darkness, surrounded by his innumerable train of associates.
All this passed before him, and the heavenly messenger said, “All this is shown, the good and the evill, the holy and impure, the glory of God and the power of darkness, that you may know hereafter the two powers and never be influenced or overcome by that wicked one Behold, whatever entices and leads to good and to do good, is of God, and whatever does not is of that wicked one, It is he that fills the hearts of men with evil, to walk in darkness and blaspheme God; and you may learn from henceforth, that his ways are to destruction, but the way of holiness is peace and rest. You now see why you could not obtain this record; that the commandment was strict, and that if ever these sacred things are obtained they must be by prayer and faithfulness in obeying the Lord. They are not deposited here for [p. 95] the sake of accumulating gain and wealth for the glory of this world: they were seald by the prayer of faith, and because of the knowledge which they contain they are of no worth among the children of men, only for their knowledge. On them is contained the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was given to his peopel on this land, and when it shall be brought forth by the power of God it shall be carried to the Gentiles, of whom many will receive it, and after will the seed of Israel be brought into the fold of their Redeemer by obeying it also. Those who kept the commandments of the Lord on this land, desired this at his hand, and through the prayer of faith obtained the promise, that if their descendants should transgress and fall away, that a record might be kept and in the last days come to their children. These things are sacred, and must be kept so, for the promise of the Lord concerning them must be fulfilled. No man can obtain them if his heart is impure, because the<​y​> contain that which is sacred; and besides, should they be entrusted in unholy hands the knowledge could not come to the world, because they cannot be interpreted by the learning of this generation; consequently, they would be considered of no worth, only as precious metal. Therefore, remember, that they are to be translated by the gift and power of God. By them will the Lord work a great and a marvelous work: the wisdom of the wise shall become as nought, and the understanding of the prudent shall be hid, and because the power of God shall be displayed those who profess to know the truth but walk in deceit, shall tremble with anger; but with signs and with wonders, with gifts and with healings, with the manifestations of the power of God, and with the Holy Ghost, shall the hearts of the faithful be comforted. You have now beheld the power of God manifested and the power of Satan: you see that there is nothing that is desirable in the works of darkness; that they cannot [p. 96] bring happiness; that those who are overcome therewith are miserable, while on the other hand the righteous are blessed with a place in the kingdom of God where joy unspeakable surrounds them. There they rest beyond the power of the enemy of truth, where no evil can disturb them. The glory of God crowns them, and they continually feast upon his goodness and enjoy his smiles. Behold, notwithstanding you have seen this great display of power, by which you may ever be able to detect the evil one, yet I give unto you another sign, and when it comes to pass then know that the Lord is God and that he will fulfil his purposes, and that the knowledge which this record contains will go to every nation, and kindred and toung, and people under the whole heaven.— This is the sign: When these things begin to be known, that is, when it is known that the Lord has shown you these things, the workers of iniquity will seek your overthrow: they will circulate falshoods to destroy your reputation, and also will seek to take your life; but remember this, if you are faithful, and shall hereafter continue to keep the commandments of the Lord, you shall be preserved to bring these things forth; for in due time he will again give you a commandment to come and take them. When they are interpreted the Lord will give the holy priesthood to some, and they shall begin to proclaim this gospel and baptize by water, and after that they shall have power to give the Holy Ghost by the laying on of their hands. Then will persecution rage more and more; for the iniquities of men shall be rev[e]aled, and those who are not built upon the Rock will seek to overthrow this church; but it will inecrease the more opposed, and spread farther and farther, increaseing in knowledge till they shall be sanctified and receive an inheritance where the glory of God will rest upon them; and when this takes place, and all things are prepared, the ten tribes of Israel will be revealed in the north country, whither they have been for a long season; and when this is fulfilled will be brought to pass that saying of the prophets—‘And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in [p. 97] Jacob, saith the Lord’— But, notwithstanding the workers of iniquity shall seek your destruction the arm of the Lord will be extended, and you will be borne off conqueror if you keep all his commandments. Your name shall be known among the nations, for the work which the Lord will perform by your hands shall cause the rightious to rejoice and the wicked to rage: with the one it shall be had in honor, and with the other in reproach; yet, with these it shall be a terror because of the great and marvelous work which shall follow the coming forth of this fulness of the gospel. Now, go thy way, rem[em]bering what the Lord has done for thee, and be diligent in keeping his commandments, and he will deliver thee from temptations and all the arts and devises of the wicked one.— Forget not to pray, that thy mind may become strong, that when he shall manifest unto thee, thou mayest have power to escape the evil, and obtain these precious things.” Though I am unable to paint before the mind, a perfect description of the scenery which passed before our brother, I think I have said enough to give you a field for reflection which may not be unprofitable. You see the great wisdom in God in leading him thus far, that his mind might begin to be more matured, and thereby be able to judge correctly, the spirits. I do not say that he would not have obtained the record had he went according to the direction of the angel—I say that he would; but God knowing all things from the beginning, began thus to instruct his servant. And in this it is plainly to be seen that the adversary of truth is not sufficient to overthrow the work of God. You will remember that I said, two invisible powers were operating upon the mind of our brother while going to Cumorah. In this, then, I discover wisdom in the dealings of the Lord: it was impossible for any man to translate the book of Mormon by the gift of God, and endure the afflictions, and [p. 98] temptations, and devices of satan, without being overthrown unless he had been previously benefited with a certain round of experience: and had our brother obtained the record the first time, not knowing how to detect the works of darkness, he might have been deprived of the blessings of sending forth the word of truth to this generation. Therefore, God knowing that satan would thus lead his mind astray, began at that early hour, that when the full time should arive, he might have a servant prepared to fulfill his purpose. So, however afflicting to his feelings this repuls[e] might have been, he had reason to rejoice before the Lord and be thankful for the favors and mercies shown; that whatever other instruction was necessary to the accomplishing this great work, he had learned, by experience, how to discern betwen the spirit of Christ and the spirit of the devil.
From this time to September, 1827, few occurrences worthy of note transpired. As a fact to be expected, nothing of importance could be recorded concerning a generation in darkness.— In the mean time our brother of whom I have been speaking, passed the time as others, in laboring for his suport. But in consequence of certain fals[e] and slanderous reports which have been circulated, justice would require me to say something upon the private life of one whose character has been so shamefully traduced. By some he is said to have been a lazy, idle, vicious, profligate fellow. These I am prepared to contradict, and that too by the testimony of many persons with whom I have been intimately acquainted, and know to be individuals of the strictest veracity, and unquestionable integrity. All these strictly and virtually agree in saying, that he was an honest, upright, virtuous, and faithfully industrious young man. And those who say to the contrary can be influenced by no other motive than to destroy the reputation of one who never injured any man in either property or person
While young, I have been informed he was afflicted with sickness; but I have been told by those [p. 99] for whom he has labored, that he was a young man of truth and industrious habits. And I will add further that it is my conviction, if he never had been called to the exalted station in which he now occupies, he might have passed down the stream of time with ease and in respectability, without the foul and hellish toung of slander ever being employed against him. It is no more than to be expected, I admit, that men of corrupt hearts will try to traduce his character and put a spot upon his name; indeed, this is according to the word of the angel; but this does not prohibit me from speaking freely of his merits, and contradicting those falshoods—I feel myself bound so to do, and I know that my testimony, on this matter, will be received and believed while those who testify to the contrary are crumbled to dust, and their words swept away in the general mass of lies when God shall purify the earth!
Connected with this, is the character of the family: and on this I say as I said concerning the character of our brother—I feel myself bound to defend the innocent always when oportunity offers. Had not those who are notorious for lies and dishonesty, also assailed the character of the family I should pass over them here in silence; but now I shall not forbear. It has been industriously circulated that they were dishonest, deceitful and vile. On this I have the testimony of responsible persons, who have said and will say, that this [is] basely false; and besides, a personal acquaintance for seven years, has demonstrated that all the difficulty is, they were once poor, (yet industrious,) and have now, by the help of God, arisen to note, and their names are like to, (indeed they will,) be handed down to posterity, and had among the righteous.— They are industrious, honest, virtuous and liberal to all. This is their character; and though many take advantage of their liberality, God will reward them; but this is the [p. 100] fact, and this testimony shall shine upon the records of the saints, and be <​recorded on the archives of heaven to be​> read in the day of eternity, when the wicked and perverse, who have vilely slandered them without cause or provocation, reap their reward with the unjust, where there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth!— if they do not repent.
Soon after this visit to Cumorah, a gentleman from the south part of the State, (,) employed our brother as a common laborer, and accordingly he visited that section of <​the​> country; and had he not been accused of digging down all, or nearly so the mountains of Susquehannah [Susquehanna], or causing others to do it by some art of nicromancy, I should leave this, for the present, unnoticed. You will remember, in the mean time, that those who seek to vilify his character, say that he has always been notorious for his idleness. This gentleman, whose name is , resided in the town of , on or near the head waters of the Susquehannah river. Some forty miles south, or down the river, in the town of , Susquehannah county, Pa. is said to be a cave or subteraneous recess, whether entirely formed by art or not I am uninformed, neither does this matter; but such is said to be the case,— where a company of Spaniards, a long time since, when the country was uninhabited by white setlers, excavated from the bowels of the earth ore, and coined a large quantity of money; after which they secured the cavity and evacuated, leaving a part still in the cave, purposing to return at some distant period. A long time elapsed and this account came from one of the individuals who was first engaged in this <​mining​> buisness. The country was pointed out and the spot minutely described. This I believe, is the substance, so far as my memory serves, though I shall not pledge my verasity for the correctness of the account as I have given.—
Enough however, was credited of the Spaniards story, to ex[c]ite the belief of many that there was a fine sum of the precious metal lying coined in this subteraneous vault, among whom was [p. 101] our ; and accordingly our brother was required to spend a few months with some others in excavating the earth, in pursuit of this treasure.
While employed here he became acquainted with the family of , of whom you read in several of the productions of those who have sought to destroy the validity of the book of Mormon. It may be necessary hereafter, to refer you more particularly to the conduct of this family, as their influence has been co[n]siderably exerted to destroy the reputation of our brother, probably because he married a daughter of the same, contrary to some of their wishes, and in connection with this, to certain statements of some others of the inhabitants of that section of count[r]y. But in saying this I do not wish to be understood as uttering aught against , (formerly .) She has most certainly evinced a decidedly correct mind and uncommon ability of talent and judgment, in a manifest willingness to fulfill, on her part, that passage in sacred writ,—“and they twain shall be one flesh”,by accompanying her husband, against the wishes and advise of her relatives, to a land of strangers: and however I may deprecate their actions, can say in justice, her character stands as fair for morality, piety and virtue, as any in the world. Though you may say, this is a digression from the subject proposed, I trust I shall be indulged, for the purpose of satisfaction satisfying many, who have heard so many slanderous reports that they are <​led to believe them true because they are​> not contradicted; and besides, this generation are dertermined to oppose every item in the form or under the pretence of revelation, unless it comes throug[h] a man who has always been more pure than Michael the great prince; and as this is the fact, and my opposers have put me to the necessity, I shall be more prolix, and have no doubt, before I give up the point, shall prove to your satisfaction, and to that of every man, that the translator of the book of Mormon is worthy the appelation of a seer and [p. 102] a prophet of the Lord. In this I do not pretend that he is not a man subject to passions like other men, beset with infirmities and encompassed with weaknesses; but if he is, all men were so before him, and a pretence to the contrary would argue a more than mortal, which would at once destroy the whole system of the religion of the Lord Jesus; for he anciently chose the weak things to overcome the strong, the foolish to confound the wise, (I mean considered so by this world,) and by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe.
On the private character of our brother I need add nothing further, at present, previous to his obtaining the records of the Nephites, only that while in that country, some verry officious persons complained of him as a disorderly person, and brought him before the authorities of the country county; but there being no cause of action he was honorably acquited. From this time forward he continued to receive instructions concerning the coming forth of the fulness of the gospel, from the mouth of the heavenly messenger, until he was directed to visit again the place where the records was deposited.
For the present I close, with a thankful heart that I am permitted to see thousands rejoicing in the assurance of the promises of the Lord, confirmed unto them through the obediance of the everlasting covenant.
As ever your brother in the Lord Jesus
To .

Editorial Note
It is unclear why began transcribing the following letter into JS’s history. He transcribed fewer than three paragraphs before canceling the entry. The letter, copied from the November 1835 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, was the second in a series of three letters in which JS provided instruction for traveling elders. After copying the first few paragraphs of the published letter, Parrish discontinued the task and wrote “Error” across the text three times. Parrish’s transcription was made after the November issue was published and apparently before early April 1836, when Warren Parrish probably transferred custody of the 1834–1836 history to along with JS’s journal.

JS, “To the Elders of the Church,” November 1835
To the Elders of the Church of the Latter Day Saints
At the close of my letter in the September No. of the “Messenger and Advocate,” I promise to continue the subject there commenced: I do so with a hope that it may be a benefit and a means of assistance to the elders in their labours, while [p. 103] they are combatting the prejudices of a crooked and perverse generation, by having in their possession, the facts of my religious principles, which are misrepresented by almost all those whose crafts are in danger by the same; and also to aid those who are anxiously inquiring, and have been excited to do so from rumor, in accertaining correctly, what my principles are.
I have been drawn into this course of proceding, by persecution, that is brought upon us from false rumor, and misrepresentations concerning my sentiments.
But to proceed, in the letter alluded to. The principles of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, are not only set forth, but many passages of scriptures, were quoted, clearly illucidating the subject; let me add, that I do positively rely upon the truth and veracity of those principles inculcated in the new testament; and then pass from the above named items, on to the item or subject of the gathering, and show my views upon this point: which is an item which I esteem to be of the greates[t] importance to those who are looking for salvation in this generation, or in these what may be called “the latter times,” [14 lines blank] [p. 104]

Editorial Note
The blank lines following ’s abandoned transcript of JS’s letter to church elders suggest a new direction in the 1834–1836 history. The final section of the history, a daily narrative beginning with the 22 September 1835 entry and ending abruptly with the 18 January 1836 entry, was begun by and continued by Warren Parrish. It is a polished version of JS’s second journal, a document written mostly by scribes but apparently dictated by JS. Although Cowdery and Parrish adhered closely to their journal source, they occasionally went beyond the making of a mere clerical copy. They changed the journal’s first-person narrative to third-person and altered the tone or emphasis of several passages. In particular, Parrish took the opportunity to fill in the details of events he had witnessed, especially when those details enhanced the image of JS in his prophetic role. Where differences between journal and history are significant, they are noted herein. Selected annotation from The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1: 1832–1839 also appears here; for more complete annotation, see pages 52–223 of that volume.
It is clear that this section of the history was intended to be a more refined and permanent document than the journal. The messy wipe erasures, roughly executed knife erasures, and other forms of revision in the journal contrast with the careful erasures and insertions found in this section of the history, and the introductory paragraph to the revised entries expresses the importance of providing a polished historical account of JS’s life for future generations. Although probably composed this introductory explanation, he attributed ultimate authorship of the history to JS, referring to him not only as “the subject of this narrative” but also as “our author.”
began transcribing JS’s 1835–1836 journal into the history after he received the journal from in early April 1836. The journal entries from which Cowdery and Parrish drew covered the period when JS and the Latter-day Saints anticipated the completion of the in , the solemn assembly to be held therein, and the promised “endowment of power from on high.” These late March events were recorded in JS’s journal; however, the history carries the narrative only up through mid-January. Cowdery’s pagination of the book indicates the intent to adapt more of JS’s journal than was accomplished; he numbered the pages of the blank book up to 241, which was ultimately 107 pages further than he wrote and 54 pages further than Parrish wrote.

JS Journal Entries
Here the reader will observe, that the narrative assumes a different form. The subject of it becoming daily more and more noted, the writer deemed it proper to give a plain, simple, yet faithful narration of every important item in his every-day-occurrences. Therefore, he trusts, that to the man of God, no apology will be necessary for such a course: especially when he takes into consideration, that he writes, not so much for the benefit of his co[n]temporaries as for that of posterity. The candid, reflecting mind will also realize, how highly we all estimate every species of intelligence or correct information we can obtain relative to the ancient Prophets & Apostles, through whom the Most-High condescended to reveal himself to the children of men. Such revelations, therefore, as may at any time be given through him will be inserted, and the characters of other men, from their necessary connexion with him, will in some instances be plainly pourtrayed; but the digression from the main thread of the narrative, when short, will, the writer trusts, constitute that pleasing variety, those lights and shades, that picture of human life on which the eye rests with most pleasure. The ear, and the mind of both reader and hearer, will be relieved from that formal sameness, or tiresome monotony, that characterize a dull tale of no merit, and enable future generations, to duly appreciate the claims the subject of this narrative may <​have​> had, on his co[n]temporaries for their implicit reliance on what he taught them.
22 September 1835 • Tuesday
Sept. 22d. 1835 This day he labored, with his friend and brother in the Lord, , in obtaining and writing blessings. They were thronged a part of the time with company, so that their labor was rather retarded; but they obtained many precious things and their souls were blessed, to that degree, that they were constrained to cry out in ecstacy, O. Lord, may thy Holy Spirit, be with thy servants forever. Amen.
Sept. 23 [22], This day he was at home, writing blessings for his beloved brethren. He was hindered by multitudes of visitors, but remarked, that the Lord had blessed their souls, this day, and may God grant to continue his mercies unto my house this night for Christ’s sake. This day his soul brethren had desired the salvation of brother . His soul was also drawn out in love for brother [p. 105] , who came to his house and loaned the Chapel Committee, one thousand dollars, for the building of the house of the in this place. O may God bless him an hundred fold, even of this worlds goods, for this act of virtuous liberality. He then as if soliloquizing, writes in his journal. My heart is full of desire this day, to be blessed of the God of Abraham, with prosperity, until I shall be able to pay all my debts, for it is the delight of my soul to be honest, O Lord, that thou knowest right well! help me, and I will give to the poor.
23 September 1835 • Wednesday
September 23d This day three of his brethren, (viz.) & called on him to bid him farewell, having set out on a journey to , the place designated by the Lord, for the gathering of the Saints in these last days, A number of brethren came in to pray with them. Brother took the lead and truly prayed in the spirit, and to use the expression of the subject of our narrative, a glorious time succeeded his prayer; joy filled our hearts and we blessed them & bid them God speed. We promised them a safe journey and bid them adiue for a season. O may God grant them long life and good days. These blessings I ask for them, in the name of Christ, Amen.
24 September 1835 • Thursday
September 24th. This day the High Council of the Church met at his house to take into consideration the afflictions of Zion, and to devize means for her redemption. It was the voice of the Spirit of the Lord, that a petition be sent to the of the state of , praying for his assistance in his official capacity, in restoring those to their possessions in , who had previously been driven from them by a lawless mob.
The brethren had a good time, and covenanted to struggle for this, their favorite object, until death dissolve this union; and if one falls, the rest are not to abandon the pursuit, but struggle on, until the ultimate object is attained, which, they prayed that God would grant unto them, in the name of Jesus Christ.
September 24th <​25th​> He drew an article for his brethren to sign who were willing to go next Spring and assist in the redemption of Zion. He felt to ask God in the name of Jesus, that eight hundred or one thousand men, well armed would volunteer to accomplish that great work.
25 September 1835 • Friday
September 25th This day he remained at home, and nothing of note transpired during the day. [p. 106]
26 September 1835 • Saturday
September 26th. This evening, the “Twelve,[”] having returned from the East in the morning, he met them, and conversed upon some matters of difficulty which were resting between some of them and President , and all things were settled satisfactorily.
27 September 1835 • Sunday
September 27th. He attended meeting: Brethren, , , & preached, and broke bread. The Lord condescended to pour out his spirit, and the souls of his servants were edified.
28 September 1835 • Monday
September 28th.. High Council met and tried : he was reproved, repented, and was reordained. was tried for fornication and cut off from the church.
29 September 1835 • Tuesday
29th. High Council met to day and tried brother , who on an investigation was acquitted from any charge. was also tried and acquitted. was also tried, confessed his error and was forgiven. In all these cases, the subject of this narrative acted on the part of the defence for the accused, to plead for mercy. The Lord appeared to bless his soul, and the council was also greatly blessed. He congratulated himself that much good would result from the two days he had been laboring in church business.
30 September 1835 • Wednesday
30th He stayed at home and visited many who came to enquire after the work of the Lord.
1 October 1835 • Thursday
October first, He stayed at home and labored on the Egyptian Alphabet in company with his brethren & . The System of Astronomy was unfolded.
2 October 1835 • Friday
Oct. 2d He wrote a letter to be published in the Messenger & Advocate
3 October 1835 • Saturday
3d He attended, and held a High Council in the case of Elder . for giving cridence [credence] to false and slanderous reports, instigated and propagated to injure brother , also to investigate the case of , son of , for threatning and other Elders. After due reflection on the part of the accused, they both confessed. and were acquitted. In the afternoon of the same day, he waited on the Twelve, most of them at his own house, exhibited to them the ancient records in his possession, and gave explanations of the same. This day he obsirved, passed off with the blessings of the Lord.
4 October 1835 • Sunday
Sunday October 4th He started early in the morning with one of his brethren, by the name of , to hold a meeting in . When about a mile from home, they saw two deer which gave a turn to their thoughts upon the subject of the Creation of God. [p. 107] They conversed freely upon many topicks, the day passed off in a very agreeable manner, and the Lord blessed their souls. When they arrived at they were disappointed of a meeting, through some mismanagement, but they conversed freely with ’s relatives, which apparently allayed much prejudice in their minds. He truly felt to ask the Lord to have mercy on their souls.
5 October 1835 • Monday
Monday Oct. 5th. He returned home, and being much fatigued, from riding in the rain, he spent the remainder of the day in reading & meditation. In the evening he attended a High Council of the twelve Apostles. He had, as he stated, a glorious time, and gave them many instructions concerning their duties for time to come. He told them it was the will of God that they should take their families to next season, also that they should attend the solemn assembly of the first Elders, for the organization of the school of the Prophets, attend to the ordinance of washing of feet, and prepare their hearts in all humility for an endowment with power from on high. To this they all assented with one accord, and appeared to be grea[t]ly rejoiced. He felt to pray God to spare the lives of these twelve to a good old age, for Christ, the Redeemer’s sake. Amen.
6 October 1835 • Tuesday
Tuesday October 6th. He staid home, and Elder [blank] [blank] Stevens came to his house and loaned F. G. Williams and Co. six hundred dollars, which greatly relieved the Company from its pecuniary embarrassments. May God bless and preserve his soul forever. In the afternoon he called to visit his , who was very sick, with a fever: he was some better toward evening and the subject of this memoir spent the rest of the day in reading and meditation
7 October 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday 7th He went to visit his and found him very low: he administred some mild herbs to him, agreeably to the commandment of the Lord to his servants in these last days. and earnestly prayed that God would have mercy upon him & restore him immediately to health, for Christ the Redeemer’s sake. This day his own natural brother, and set out in the Stage for the City of , in the State of New York, to purchase goods to replenish the called the committee store. May the Lord be propitious, grant them health strength, a prosperous journey and a safe, expeditious return to the bosom of their families and society of their friends.
He here pronounced a blessing and a prophecy upon He said blessed of the Lord is , even the Bishop of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, for the Bishoprick shall never be [p. 108] taken away from him while he liveth. and the time cometh when he shall overcome all the narrow-mindedness of his heart, and all his covetous desires that so easily beset him. He shall deal with a liberal hand to the poor, the needy, the sick and afflicted the widow and the fatherless. Marvelously and miraculously shall the Lord his God provide for him, even, that he shall be blessed with a fulness of the good things of this earth, and his seed after him from generation to generation. And it shall come to pass, that according to the measure that he metes out with a liberal hand unto the poor, so shall it be measured to him again by the hand of his God, even an hundred fold. Angels shall guard his habitation, and protect the lives of his posterity; and they shall become very numerous on the earth. Whomsoever he blesseth, shall be blessed and whosoever. he curseth shall be cursed. When his enemies seek to hurt or destroy him, let him rise up and curse them and the hand of God shall be upon his enemies in judgement: They shall be utterly confounded and brought to desolation. Therefore, he shall be preserved unto the utmost, for his life shall be precious in the sight of the Lord. He shall rise up and shake himself as a Lion. As a Lion riseth out of his nest and roareth until he shaketh, the hills, as a Lion goeth forth among the lesser beasts, so shall the goings forth of him be whom the Lord hath anointed to exalt the poor and humble the rich. Therefore, his name shall be on high and his rest among the sanctified.
8 October 1835 • Thursday
Thursday 8th. He staid at home and attended his sick with anxiety; nothing worthy of notice transpired.
9 October 1835 • Friday
Friday 9th This day passed much as the preceding, he waited on his , and nothing occurred worthy of notice.
10 October 1835 • Saturday
Saturday 10th visited the house of his and found him failing very fast.
11 October 1835 • Sunday
Sabbath 11th. Visited his again, who was very sick. While the subject of this narrative was in secret prayer in the morning, the Lord said, my servant, thy shall live. He waited on him all this day, with his desires raised to God in the name of Jesus Christ, that he would restore to health again, that he might be blessed with his company and advise, esteeming it one of the greatest earthly blessings to be favored with the society of parents, whose mature years and experience, render them capable of giving [p. 109] the most salutary advice. At evening came and united with J. Smith Junr. in calling on the Lord in mighty prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ. and laid their hands on him and rebuked the disease, and God heard and answered our <​their​> prayer to the great joy and satisfaction of our their souls His aged arose, dressed himself, shouted and praised the Lord. He [JS] called his Brother who had retired to rest, that he might join with them in songs of praise to the Most High.
12 October 1835 • Monday
Monday Oct. 12th He rode to (a small village about two miles and a half from ) in company with his , to purchase goods at W. Lyon’s Store. On his return he found a Mr. Bradley, who had been thrown from his waggon, lying across the road, and apparently much injured by his fall.
13 October 1835 • Tuesday
Tuesday 13th He visited his , who was very much recoverd from his sickness; indeed, so much so as to cause his friends to marvel at the might, power, and condescension of God in answering prayer in his behalf.
14 October 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday 14 He was at home through the day.
15 October 1835 • Thursday
Thursday. 15th. He labored in his ’s orchard, gathering fruit.
16 October 1835 • Friday
Friday 16th. He was called into the to settle some difficulties which had occurred in it. At evening of the same day he baptized , and his own words in his journal, are [“]the Lord poured out his spirit upon us and we had a good time[”]
17 October 1835 • Saturday
Saturday 17th. He called his family together, arranged some of his domestic concerns, and dismissed his boarders.
18 October 1835 • Sunday
Sunday 18th. He attended meeting in the , confirmed several who had been baptized, and blessed several children, with the blessings of the new and everlasting covenant. Elder preached in the fore-noon and in the afternoon. It was truly an interesting time.
19 October 1835 • Monday
Monday 19th. He was at home and exhibited the Egyptian Records of antiquity to a number of persons who called to see them.
20 October 1835 • Tuesday
Tuesday 20th He was at home during the day, but preached in the in the evening.
21 October 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday 21st He was at home during the day and nothing of much moment transpired.
22 October 1835 • Thursday
Thursday 22d He was at home attending to his domestic concerns.
23 October 1835 • Friday
Friday 23d He was at home. Nothing worthy of note occurred. [p. 110]
24 October 1835 • Saturday
Saturday 24th. Mr. Goodrich and his lady called on him to see the ancient Egyptian Records, and also went to Doct. , to see the Mummies. Brethren Hawks & Carpenter from called and tarried with him over the sabbath. and attended meeting
25 October 1835 • Sunday
Sunday 25th. He attended meeting. President preached in the forenoon and Elder in the afternoon; after which, Elder joined brother and Sister in matrimony, and the subject of this narrative blessed them with long life and prosperity in the name of Jesus Christ. At evening he attended a prayer meeting, opened it and exhorted his brethren and sisters about an hour. The Lord poured out his spirit, and some glorious things were spoken in the gift of tongues, and interpreted concerning the redemption of Zion.
26 October 1835 • Monday
Monday 26th. Went to to attend the Court, in company with three of his Brothers, (viz.) , & . His Brother was summoned before this court for not doing Military duty and was fined because they had not their conference minutes with them, for testimony to prove that was clerk of the conference. This testimony, they would have carried with them, had it not been for the neglect of their Council, or Lawyer, who did not notify them that it was necessary to his success in the suit. This act of the Attorney, he felt as did his brethren, was a want of fidelity to his client, apparent indeed, and a base insult practiced upon him on account of his religious faith, that the ungodly might have an unlawful power over him, and trample him and our feelings under their unhallowed feet. In consequence of this omission of duty a fine of twenty dollars including costs, was imposed upon his , and to cancel it and the expenses attending the suit he was obliged to sell his cow. The subject of this narrative, felt to say in the name of Jesus Christ, that the money thus unjustly taken, shall be a testimony against them, and canker their flesh as fire.
27 October 1835 • Tuesday
Tuesday 27th In the morning he was called at to his Brother ’s to visit his wife, who was confined and in a dangerous situation. His brother went to after Doctor . He went himself out into the field and bowed in mighty prayer before the Lord, beseeching him in the name of Jesus Christ in her behalf. The word of the Lord came unto him, saying, my servant shall come and deal prudently, and my mine handmaiden shall be delivered of a living child and be spared. [p. 111] The came in about an hour; and in the course of two hours after she was safely delivered. Thus what God had manifested to him, was fulfilled every whit. On the evening of the same day he preached in the to a crowded congregation.
28 October 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday 28th He was at home during the day employed in d[o]mestic concerns.
29 October 1835 • Thursday
Thursday 29th. began to write for him at $15.00 per month, and received $16.00 in advance out of the , known by the name of the Committe Store. His & visited at his house this day. Bishop returned this day from a long journey to the East. It is proper here to note that his clerk, , agreed, subsequently to board himself, for which he was to have four dollars more per month, making $19. The subject of this memoir was then summoned to appear before the High Council of the Church, which was then setting to give his testimony in the case of who was arraigned before that tribunal for whipping his own daughter unreasonably. His testimony was in ’s favor. He then returned to his writing room, thence to after his large journal and on returning, he made some observations to his scribe relative to the plan of a city which is to be built up hereafter on on this ground consecrated for a stake of Zion. It is proper here to notice that during his absence at the ’s Bishop came in, accompanied with President . He was much rejoiced to see them. He returned home and his scribe commenced writing, in his journal a history of his life: concluding President ’s 2d letter to , which, had begun. and his wife with his & mother called to see him. The ’s parints had but recently come from the East, and had called to make some enquiry concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. and some others came in; and he then set down and related to them the history of the coming forth of the Book, the administration of the Angel to him and the rudiments of the Gospel of Christ. They appeared to be well satisfied, and he expected to baptize them in in a few days, at least, such were his feelings although they made no request of that kind at the time of the interview. He then Went to the Council in the case of where he had previously been called as testimony. The Presidency adjourned, and on his return Elder , observed that long debates were indulged. He replied [p. 112] that it was generally the case that too much altercation was indulged on both sides, and their debates protracted to an unprofitable length. He was now called to his supper. After being seated around the table, observed to , that the thought had just occurred to his mind, that perhaps, in about one year from that time they might be seated together, around a table in the land of Zion. His observed, on hearing this remark, she hoped it might be the case, that not only they, but the rest of the company present might be seated around a table in that land of promise. The same sentiment was reciprocated by the company round the table, to which his full soul seemed to respond his hearty amen, praying God to grant it in the name of Jesus Christ. After supper he went again to the High Council, accompanied at this time, with his , and some others that belonged to his household. He was solicited to take a seat with the Presidency, and preside in the case of Sister [Mary Cahoon] Elliott. He did so, his was mother was called as testimony and began to relate circumstances that had previously been brought before the church and settled. He objected against such testimony. The Complainant, arose and accused him of invalidating or doubting his ’s’ testimony, which he had not done, nor had he any desire to do so. He told his Brother he was out of place and asked him to set down: but he refused; the request was repeated and became enraged. He was finally ordered to set down, but said he would not, unless he was knocked down. By this time he (President J. S. Junr.) became wounded and agitated in his feelings on account of the wilful and wicked stubbornness of his brother and was about to leave the house; But his aged who was present, requested him not to do so. He hearkened to his advice, the house was brought to order, after much debate upon the subject and the council resumed business. & his wife were both acquitted of the charges against them.
30 October 1835 • Friday
Friday 30th He was at home. This day Mr. Francis Porter, a member of the Methodist Episcopal church from N.Y. called to make some inquiry about lands in this place, whether there are any farms for sale that are valuable, and whether a member of our church could move into this vicinity and enjoy his own possessions and property without making it common stock.
He had been requested to do so by some brethren, who live in , Jefferson County N. Y. He [JS] replied that he had a valuable farm joining the lot that He would sell, and that there are other lands for sale in this place, that there is no commonstock business, among us, and that [p. 113] every man enjoys his own property; or he can if he is be disposed consecrate liberally or illiberally to support the poor & needy or to the building up of Zion, He also inquired how many members there were in this church. He was told there were about five or six hundred who communed at our chapel and that perhaps, there were one thousand in this vicinity.
At evening the subject of this narrative was presented with a letter from his brother , the purport of which was that that he was censured by the brethren, in consequence of what took place in the council the preceding evening: he also wished to have the cause of censure removed to the satisfaction and understanding of all, that he might not unjustly be censured or made to suffer in his feelings. He then considered that he had been materially injured. He (J.S. Jnr.) replied that he thought they parted with the best of feelings, and that he was not accountable for the dissatisfaction of others. was invited by Joseph, to call and talk with him, assuring him that he would converse in the spirit of meekness on the subject, and give him all the satisfaction he could. This reply was by letter and a copy retained.
31 October 1835 • Saturday
Saturday 31st In the morning his Brother called in and said he had been much trou[b]led all night, and had not slept any. He said something was wrong, and while they were conversing his brother came in according to his (Joseph’s) request last night. His brother observed that he must go to the Store. He was invited by Joseph to stay; he replied that he could go and do his business and return: He did so, and during his absence introduced the subject of their difficulties at the council. Joseph told him he did not want to converse upon that subject until returned. He soon came in, and it was proposed to relate the ocurrences of the Council before named, and wherein he (Joseph) had done wrong he would confess it and ask his forgiveness; and then he () should relate his story and make confession wherein he had done wrong, and then leave it to brother & to decide the matter between them, and he would agree to the decision and be satisfied therewith. observed that he had not done wrong and that Joseph was always determined to carry every point whether right or wrong, and, therefore, he could not stand [p. 114] an equal chance with him. This was truly an insult. It was indirectly accusing him of wilful stubbornness and wicked obstinacy: however he did not reply to him in a harsh manner, knowing his ’s irascible disposition, but tried to reason with him and show him the propriety of a compliance with his request. He finally succeeded with the assistance of his brother , in obtaining his assent to the proposition. he had made. He, (Joseph) then related the circumstances as they occurred, and wherein he had done wrong he confessed it and asked him to forgive him. then made his statements justifying himself, wholly not only in transgressing the rules of the council, but in treating the Presidency with utter contempt. After he had closed, began to make some remarks in the spirit of meekness. became enraged, Joseph now joined his br. in trying to calm the stormy feelings of But, neither neither reason nor argument were of any avail. He insisted that they intended to add abuse to injury. His passion increased; he arose abruptly and said he wanted no more to to do with them or the church and they might take his license for he would have nothing to do with them. He rushed out of the door in a fit of rage, his brothers trying to prevail on him to stop, but all their entreaties had no effect to soften his heart or subdue his passion. He went away in a rage and soon sent his license to his brother Joseph. He appeared to be under the influence of the Adversary of righteousness, and consequently, to spread the leaven of iniquity among the brethren of the Church. He succeeded in prejudiced prejudicing the mind of his brother . He was also soon heard in the highway exclaiming against his br. Joseph; which would make his enemies to greatly rejoice. Where the matter would end he knew not, but he prayed God to forgive them, and give them humility and unfeigned repentance. The feelings of his heart he could not express. on that occasion. He could prevail nothing with them; he could only pray his Heavenly Father to open their eyes that they may discover where they stand, and extricate themselves from the snare into which they had fallen.
After dinner he in company with his , children and brother and some others rode out on a visit to s who lived near the village of in Cayahoga [Cuyahoga] County. He expressed himself as having had an agreeable visit, and as soon as he returned, he was called upon to baptize. Mr. Samuel Whitney, wife and daughter. After baptizm, he with others returned to their [p. 115] house and offered our thanks to the Most High. While in prayer he obtained an evidence that his brother . would return to the church and confess the wrong he had done.
1 November 1835 • Sunday
Sabbath Nov. 1st Verily, thus saith the Lord unto his servant Joseph Smith Junr. mine anger is kindled against my servant , because of his iniquities, his covetous and dishonest principles, in himself and family; and <​if​> he doth not purge them away and set his house in order, <​chastizement awaiteth him​> therefore, if he repent not chastizement awaiteth him, even as it seemeth good in my sight. Therefore go and declare unto him this word. He (the subject of this narrative) went immediately and delivered this message according as the Lord had commanded him. He even, called him in, and read what the Lord had said concerning him. He acknowledged that it was verily so, and expressed much humility. He then went to meeting. preached a fine discourse[.] In the P. M. President continued the services of the day by reading the 5th. chapter of Matthew, also the law regulating the High Council and made some remarks upon them. The eucharist was administred, he (Joseph) then confirmed a number who had been baptized, and blessed a number of children in the name of Jesus Christ, with the new and everlasting Covenant Notice was then given that the Elder’s school would commence the next day. He then dismissed the meeting.
2 November 1835 • Monday
Monday morning Nov. 2d He was engaged in regulating the affairs of the school. He then had his team harnessed, and he, , , his Scribe, and a number of others, went to to hear deliver a lecture on the theory and practice of Physic. They called at ’s had their horses put in the stable, took dinner, attended the lecture and was treated with marked respect, throughout. They then returned home. came in to the place to day from Zion & & from the East. They The question was then agitated, Which should go to to make arrangements respecting a book-bindery. The question was at length referred to him for a decision. The word of the Lord came thus unto him, saying, It is not my will that my servant, should go to , but inasmuch as he wishes to go and visit his relatives, that he may warn them to flee the wrath to come let him go and see them, for that purpose, and let that be his only business. And behold in this thing he shall be blessed [p. 116] with power to overcome their prejudices. Verily thus saith the Lord, Amen.
3 November 1835 • Tuesday
Tuesday 3d Thus came the word of the Lord unto him concerning the, Twelve,
behold they are under condemnation because they are not sufficiently humble, in my sight, and in consequence of their covetous desires, in that they have not dealt equally with each other, in the division of the monies which came into their hands, nevertheless some of them dealt equally, therefore, they shall be rewarded. But verily I say unto, you they must all humble themselves before me, before they will be accounted worthy to receive an endowment, to go forth in my name unto all nations. As for my servant , let the Eleven humble themselves in prayer and in faith and wait on me in patience and my servant shall return and I will make him a polished shaft in my quiver, in bringing down the wickedness and abominations of men and there shall be none mightier than he in his day and generation, nevertheless, if he repent not speedily, he shall be brought low and shall be chastened, and sorely for all his iniquity which he has committed against me. Nevertheless the sin which he hath sinned against me, is not even now more grievous than the sin with which my Servant , my Servant , and my Servant , have sinned against me, and the residu are not sufficiently humble before me. Behold the parable which I spake concerning a man having twelve sons. For what man among you having twelve Sons and is no respecter to them and they serve him obediently and he saith unto the one be thou clothed in robes and sit thou here, and to the other be thou clothed in rags and sit thou there. And looketh upon his sons and saith I am just. Ye will answer and say no man, and ye answer truly. Therefore, <​verily​> thus saith the Lord your God. I appointed these ‘Twelve’ that they should be equal in their ministry and in their portion, and in their evangelical rights. Wherefore they have sinned a very grievous sin, inasmuch as they have made themselves unequal. and have not hearkned unto my voice. Therefore, let them repent speedily and prepare their hearts for the solemn assembly, and for the great day which is to come. Verily thus saith the Lord. Amen. [p. 117]
He then went to assist in organizing the Elders school: called to order and made some appropriate remarks on the object of the school, and the great necessity there was of rightly improving time and reigning up our minds to a sense of the great object that lies before us, (viz.) That glorious endowment that God has in store for the faithful. He then dedicated the school in the name of the Lord Jesus, Christ. After the school was dismissed, he attended a patriarchal meeting at his brother s. his s parents were blessed, also his own child. and named . At evening he preached in the school house to a crowded congregation.
4 November 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday Nov. 4 He was at home in the morning, but attended school, during the school hours; made good progress in studies. In the evening he lectured. on Grammar at home. On this day arrived in this place from Zion.
5 November 1835 • Thursday
Thursday— 5th. He attended school. This day came in from the East. He was called in the morning to visit , who was sick. He took his scribe with him and they prayed for, and laid their hands upon him in the name of the Lord Jesus The disease was rebuked. and came in and desired to hear the revelation concerning the “Twelve” His read it to them: They expressed some little dissatisfaction but after examining their own hearts, they acknowledged it to be the word of the Lord, and said they were satisfied. After School Elder came in and being one of the ‘Twelve’ he desired also to hear it read. After hearing it he appeared perfectly satisfied. In the evening he [JS] lectured on Grammar.
6 November 1835 • Friday
Friday 6th. He was at home in the morning, but attended school during the school hours of the day. spent the evening at home. It may not be improper here to remark that in the morning he was introduced to a man from the East. After hearing the name, Joseph Smith, he remarked that he was nothing but a man. i[n]timating by this expression that he had imbibed the idea, that a person through whom the Lord revealed himself, must be something more than a man. He appeared to have forgotten that all the ancient Prophets were but men, particularly what St. James said of the Prophet, Elias, that he was a man of like passions as we are, yet he had that power with God, that he prayed that it might not rain on the earth, and it rained not for three years and six months. And again in answer to his prayer, the Lord gave rain and the earth brought forth her fruits. Indeed, such is the [p. 118] darkness and ignorance of this generation, that it is a thing incredible that a man should have any intercourse with his Maker.
7 November 1835 • Saturday
Saturday 7th. He spent the day at home attending to his domestic concerns. The word of the Lord came unto him, saying, behold I am well pleased with my servant, and my Servant , because of the integrity of their hearts in laboring in my vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men. Verily I say unto you their sins are forgiven them; Therefore, say unto them in my name, that it is my will that they should tarry for a little season and attend the school, and also the Solemn assembly for a wise purpose in me, even so. Amen.
8 November 1835 • Sunday
Sunday 8th. He went to meeting in the morning at the usual hour. In the fore noon preached a very interesting discourse. In the after noon preached; and after preaching came forward to make some remarks, by way of confession. He had previously been excommunicated from the Church, for lying, and for an attempt to seduce a female. His confession was not satisfactory to the mind of the subject of these memoirs. then rose and made some remarks, touching the proceedings of the High Council in the case of said . He observed that the council decided, that he should make a public confession of his crime and have it published in the Messenger & Advocate. He proposed that should now make his confession before the congregation, and then immediately observed that he had forgiven . which seemed rather to militate against the statement he first made, which doubtless was rather to be attributed to an error of the head than the heart. President then arose and made some remarks in opposition to those made by the preceding speaker, and were directly calculated to destroy his influence and bring him into disrepute in the eyes of the Church. This was not right; he also misrepresented ’s case and spread darkness rather than light upon the subject. A vote of the Church was then called on his case and he was restored without any further confession; that he should be received into the Church by baptism, which was administered accordingly. After he (J. S.) came home from meeting, he took up a labor with his Uncle , and convinced him that he was wrong in some of his remarks respecting , and he confessed it. He then went and labored with , and succeeded also in convincing him of his error, which [p. 119] he confessed. The word of the Lord then came unto him that President and President were under condemnation before the Lord for their errors. He also commenced a labor with for not partaking of the Sacrament, and he made his confession. He also reproved his for leaving the meeting before Sacrament she made no reply but manifested contrition by weeping.
9 November 1835 • Monday
Monday Nov. 9th After breakfast Mary Whitiker came in and wished to see him; her request was granted. She gave a relation of her grievances which, for the time being, were unfathomable, and if true they were sorrowful indeed. He prayed his Heavenly Father to bring the truth of her case to light, that the reward due to evil doers may be given them, and that the afflicted and oppressed, may be delivered. While sitting in his house this morning between the hours of ten an[d] eleven, a man came in and introduced himself to him calling himself Joshua, the Jewish Minister, His appearance was something singular, having, a beard about three inches in length which is quite grey. his hair was also long and considerably silvered with age. He had the appearance of a man about 50 or 55 years old. He was tall and straight, slender frame, blue eyes, thin visage, and fair complexion. He wore a green frock coat and pantaloons of the same color. He had on a black fur hat with a narrow brim. When speaking he frequently shuts his eyes and exhibits a kind of scowl upon his countenance. He (Joseph) made some inquiry after his name, but, received no definite answer. The conversation soon turned upon the subject of Religion, and after the subject of this narrative had made some remarks concerning the bible, he commenced giving him a relation of the circumstances, connected with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, which were nearly as follows. Being wrought up in my mind respecting the subject of Religion, and looking at the different systems taught the children of men, I knew not who was right or who was wrong, but considered it of the first importance to me that I should be aright right, in matters of so much moment, matter involving eternal consequences. Being thus perplexed in mind I retired to the silent grove. and there bowed down before the Lord, under a realizing sense, (if the bible be true) ask and you shall receive, knock and it shall be opened, seek and you shall find, and again, if any man lack wisdom, let [him ask] of God who giveth to all men liberally & upbraideth not. Information was what I most desired, [p. 120] with age. He had at this time. and with a fixed determination to obtain it, I called on the Lord for the first time in the place above stated, or in other words, I made a fruitless attempt to pray My tongue seemed to be swoolen in my mouth, so that I could not utter. I heard a noise behind me like some one walking towards me: I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer; I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking. I kneeled again, my mouth was opened and my tongue loosed; I called on the Lord in mighty prayer. A pillar of fire appeared above my head; which presently rested down upon me, and filled me with unspeakable joy. A personage appeared in the midst of this pillar of flame, which was spread all around and yet nothing consumed. Another personage soon appeared like unto the first: he said unto me thy sins are forgiven thee. He testified also unto me that Jesus Christ is the son of God. I saw many angels in this vision. I was about 14 years old when I received this first communication. When I was about 17 years I had another vision of angels; in the night season, after I had retired to bed; I had not been asleep, but was meditating upon my past life and experience. I was well aware I had not kept the commandments, and I repented heartily for all my sins and transgressions, and humbled myself before him, whose eye surveys all things at a glance. All at once the room was illuminated above the brightness of the sun; An Angel appeared before me; his hands and feet were, naked, pure and white; he stood betwen the floors of the room, clothed with purity inexpressible. He said unto me I am a Messenger sent from God, be faithful and keep his commandments in all things. He told me also of a sacred record which was written on plates of gold. I saw in the vision the place where they were deposited. He said to me the Indians were the literal decendants of Abraham. He explained many of the prophecies to me; one of which I will mention, which is in Malachi 4th chapter. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh <​(&c​> He also informed me that the Urim & Thummim was hid up with the record, and that God would give me power to translate it with the assistance of this instrument; he then gradually vanished out of my sight or the vision closed. while meditating on what I had seen, The Angel appeared to me again, and related the, [p. 121] same things and much more, also the third time bearing the same tidings and departed. During the time I was in this vision I did not realize any thing around me, except what was shown to me in this communication. After the vision had all passed, I found that it was nearly day light; The family soon arose, and got up also. On that day while in the field at work with my father, he asked me if I was sick, I replied, I had but little strength. He told me to go to the house. I started and went part of the way, and was finally deprived of my strength and fell; but how long I remained I do not know. The Angel came to me again and commanded me to go and tell my father what I had seen & heard. I did so. The old man wept and told me that it was a vision from God, and to attend to it. I went and found the place where the plates were, according to the direction of the Angel, I also saw them and the Angel as before. The powers of darkness strove hard against me. I called on God. The Angel told me, that the reason why I could not obtain the plates at this time, was because I was under transgression, but to come again in one year from that time. I did so but did not obtain them, also the third and the fourth year the last of which time I obtained them, and translated them into <​the​> english language by the gift and power of God and have been preaching it ever since.
While President Smith was relating this brief history of the establisment of the Church of Christ in these last days, seemed to be highly entertained. After he had gone through he observed to him () that the hour of worship and time to dine had now arrived, and asked him to tarry, to which he consented, After dinner the conversation was resumed, & proceeded to make some remarks on the Prophecies as follows. He observed that he was aware that, he (Joseph) could bear stronger meat than many others, therefore he should open his mind the more freely. Daniel has told us that he is to stand in his proper lot in the latter days. According to his vision he had a right to shut it up and also to open it again after many days, or in the latter times. Daniel’s image whose head was gold, and body, arms legs and feet were composed of the different materials described in his vision, represents the different governments [p. 122]
The golden head was to represent Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon; the other parts other kings and forms of government, which I shall not now mention in detail, but confine my remarks more particularly to the feet of the image. The policy of the wicked spirit is to seperate what God has joined together, and unite what he has seperated, which he has succeded in doing to admiration, in the present state of society, which is like unto iron & clay. There is confusion in all things both political and religious and notwithstanding all the efforts that are made to bring about a union, society remains disunited, and all attempts to unite it are as fruitless as to attempt to unite it are as <​it are as​> fruitless as to attempt to unite iron and clay.
The feet of the image is the government of these . Other nations <​& kingdoms​> are looking up to her for an example of union, freedom and equal rights, and, therefore, worship her like as Daniel saw in the vision, although they are beginning to lose confidence in her, on seeing the broils and discord that distract her political and religious horizons. This image is characteristic of all governments and institutions, or most of them; as they begin with a head of gold and terminate in the conte[m]ptible feet of iron and clay. They make a splendid appearance at first, promising much more than they can perform, and finally end in degradation and sink in infamy. We should not only start to come out of Babylon, but we should leave her entirely, lest we be overthrown in her ruins. We should, therefore, keep on improving and reforming. Twenty four hours for improvement now, is worth as much as a year was, a hundred years ago. The spirit of the Fathers was cut down, or those that were under the altar, are now rising, this is the first resurrection. the Elder that falls first will rise last. We should not form any opinion only for the present, and leave the result of futurity with God. I have risen up out of obscurity, but was looked up to, when but a youth in temporal things. It is not necessary that God should give us all things at first, or in his first commission to us, but in his second John Saw the Angel deliver the gospel in the last days, which would not be necessary if it were already in the world: This expression would be inconsistent, The small lights that God has given are sufficient to lead us out of Babylon [p. 123] and when we get out we shall have the greater light. He told that he did not perfectly understand him concerning the resurrection, and wished him to be more explanatory on that subject: he replied that he did not feel impressed by the spirit to unfold it further at that time, but perhaps, he might at some other time.— President Smith then withdrew to do transact some business with a gentleman that had called to see him.
informed [,] Smith’s scribe that he was born in the Town of Washington County in the state of New York. He said that all the Rail-Roads, Canals and other improvements, are performed by spirits of the resurrection. The silence, spoken of by John the Revelator, he said, which is to be in Heaven for the space of half an hour, is between 1830 & 1851, during which time the judgements of God will be poured out: After that time there will be peace.
Curiosity to see a man that was said to be a Jew, induced many to call during the day, and more particularly at evening. Suspicions were entertained that said was none other that than the noted of , about whom, so much had been said in the public prints on account of the trials he underwent in that place before courts of justice, The crimes alledged against him were murder, manslaughter, contempt of Court, and whipping his daughter, for the two last of which he was found guilty was imprisioned and came out about four months since After some equivocating he confessed that he was really . After supper it was proposed that Matthias should deliver a lecture to those present, He did so sitting in his chair He commenced, by saying, God said let there be light and there was light, which he dwelt upon through his discourse. He made some very excellent remarks but his mind was evidently filled with darkness. After he dismissed his meeting & the congregation dispersed, he conversed freely upon the circumstances that tra[n]spired in .
His name is . He says that Joshua is his priestly name. During all this time no one contradicted his sentiments. The object of President Smith, was to draw out all he could concerning his faith. The next morning——
10 November 1835 • Tuesday
[illegible] Tuesday 10th He [JS] resumed the conversation and desired him to enlighten his mind with his views respecting the [p. 124] resurrection. He says he possesses the spirit of his fathers, that he is the literal decendant of Matthias the Apostle, who was chosen in the place of Judas that fell. and that his spirit is resussitated in him, and that the this is the way or scheme of Eternal life; this transmigration of soul or spirit from Father to Son. He told that his doctrine was of the Devil. That he in reality was possessed of a wicked and deformed spirit. Notwithstanding, he professed to be the spirit of truth itself, and said also that he possessed the soul of Christ. He tarried until the next day.
11 November 1835 • Wednesday
Wednesday 11th. After breakfast was told that his God was the Devil and could stay no longer, but he must depart, and so for once says the subject of these memoirs I cast out the Devil in bodily shape.
Here it may not be improper to mention that on the 9th came to ask advice relative to purchasing land. in this place or in . As he could not arrange his business to go to next spring he was advized to buy and settle here until he arrange his mind and then go to Zion if he chose to do so, President Smith was at home this day except during school hours. He spent the evening around his own fireside teaching his family the science of grammar. The weather was now cold, the wind high and it commenced snowing.
12 November 1835 • Thursday
Thursday 12th He attended school again during the school hours. Rain and snow continued to fall. The snow by that time was about one inch in depth. the wind high and the weather extremely unpleasant. The laborers who had commenced finishing the out-side of the were obliged to break off from their business on the 11th. at the commencement of this storm. The job of finishing the out side of the was let to & for $1000. They progressed rapidly, in it. has the Job of plastering the inside throughout for $1500. He commenced on the 9th. and still continues, the inclemency of the weather <​to the contrary​> notwithstanding. This evening (12) President Smith met with a council of the “Twelve” by their request. Nine of them were present. Council opened by singing and prayer and he then remarked to them nearly as follows: I am happy in the enjoyment of this opportunity in meeting this council on this occasion. I am satisfied that [p. 125] the spirit of the Lord is here, and I am satisfied with all the [brethren present] and I need not say to you that you have my utmost confidence, and that I intend to uphold you to the uttermost, for I am well aware that you have to sustain my character against the vile calumnies and reproaches of this ungodly generation, and that you delight in so doing. Darkness prevails; it is in a great degree now as it was when Christ was about to be crucified. The powers of darkness strove to obscure the glorious sun of righteousness, that then began to dawn upon the world, and was soon to burst in great blessings upon the heads of the faithful; and let me tell you, brethren, That great blessings await is us at this time, and will soon be poured out upon us if we are faithful in all things: for we are even entitled to greater blessings than they were, because they had the person of Christ with them to instruct them in the great plan of salvation. His personal presence we have not, therefore we need the greater faith on account of our peculiar circumstances. I am determined to do all I can to uphold you. Although I may do many things inadvertantly that are not right in the sight of God. You want to know many things that are before you, that you may know how to prepare yourselves for the great things that God is about to bring to pass. But there is one great deficiency or obstruction in the way, that deprives us of the greater blessings, and in order to make the foundation of this church complete, and permanent, we must remove this obstruction, which is to attend to certain duties to which we have not attended. I supposed I had established this church on a permanent foundation when I went to . and indeed I did so, for if I had been taken away it would have been enough. But as I yet live, therefore, God requires more at my hands. The item to which I wish the more particularly to cite your minds this night is the ordinance of washing of feet, This we have not done as yet, but it is as necessary now as it was in the days of the Saviour, and we must have a place prepared that we may attend to this ordinance, aside from the world,