Letter to Citizens of Missouri, 8 March 1844

  • Source Note

Document Transcript

One of the most pleasing scenes that can transpire on earth, is, when a sin has been committed by one person against another, to forgive that sin: and then, according to the sublime and perfect pattern of the Savior, pray to our Father in heaven, to forgive also. Verily, verily such a friendly rebuke is like the mellow zephyr of summer’s eve: it soothes; it cheers and gladdens the heart of the humane and the savage.—Well might the wise man exclaim: “a soft answer turneth away wrath:” for men of sense, judgment, and observation, in all the various periods of time, have been witnesses, figuratively speaking, that water not wood, checks the rage of fire.
Jesus said, “blessed are the peace makers, for they shall be called the children of God;”— wherefore if the nation, a single state, community, or family ought to be greatful for any thing, it is peace. Peace, lovely child of heaven; peace, like light from the same great parent, gratifies, animates and happifies the just and the unjust, and is the very essence of happiness below, and bliss above. He that does not strive with all his powers of body and mind: with all his influence at home and abroad, and to cause others to do so too, to seek peace, and maintain it for his own benefit and convenience, and for the honor of his state, nation and country, has no claim on the clemency of man; nor should he be entitled to the friendship of woman, or the protection of government. He is the canker worm to gnaw his own vitals, and the vulture to prey upon his own body; and he is as to his own prospects and prosperity in life, a felo-de-se of his own pleasure. A community of such beings are not far from hell on earth, and should be let alone as unfit for the smiles of the free; or the praise of the brave. But the peace maker, O give ear to him! for the words of his mouth, and his doctrine, drop like the rain, and distil as the dew; they are like the gentle mist upon the herbs, and as the moderate shower upon the grass. Animation, virtue, love, contentment, philanthrophy, benevolence, compassion, humanity, and friendship, push life into bliss, and men a little below the angels, exercising their powers, privileges and knowledge, according to the order, rules and regulations of revelation, by Jesus Christ, dwell together in unity: and the sweet odour that is wafted by the breath of joy and satisfaction from their righteous communion, is like the rich perfume from the consecrated oil that was poured upon the head of Aaron; or like the luscious fragrance that rises from the fields of Arabian spices; yea more, the voice of the peace maker
Is like the music of the spheres,
It charms our souls, and calms our fears;
It turns the world to paradise,
And men to pearls of greater price.
So much to preface this friendly hint to the State of , for notwithstanding some of her private citizens and public officers, have committed violence, robbery, and even murder, upon the rights and persons of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints; yet, compassion dignity, and a sense of the principles of religion, among all clases; and honor and benevolence, mingled with charity by high minded patriots, lead me to suppose, that there are many worthy people in that , who will use their influence and energies to bring about a settlement of all those old difficulties; and use all consistent means, to urge the state, for her honor, prosperity and good name, to restore every person, she or her citizens have expelled from her limits, to their rights, and pay them all damage! that the great body of high minded and well disposed southern and western gentlemen and ladies; the real peace makers of a western world, will go forth, good Samaritan like, and pour in the oil and the wine, till all that can be healed, are made whole; and after repentance, they shall be forgiven; for verily the scriptures say: “Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentance.”
Knowing the fallibility of man; considering the awful responsibility of rejecting the cries of the innocent; confident in the virtue and patriotism of the noble minded western men, tenacious of their character and standing; too high to stoop to disgraceful acts, and too proud to tolerate meanness in others; yea, may I not say without boasting, that the best blood of the west, united with the honor of the illustrious fathers of freedom, will move, as the forest is moved by a mighty wind, to promote peace and friendship in every part of our wide spread, lovely country. Filled with a love almost unspeakable, and moved by a desire pleasant as the dew of heaven, I supplicate not only our Father above, but also the civil, the enlightened, the intelligent, the social and the best inhabitants of ; they that feel bound by principles of honor, justice, moral greatness, and national pride, to arise in the character of virtuous freemen from the disgrace and reproach that might inadvertently blur their good names, for want of self preservation. Now is the time to brush off the monster, that, incubus like, seems hanging upon the reputation of the whole . A little exertion, and the infamy of the evil will blacken the guilty only; for is it not written, The tree is known by its fruit?
The voice of reason, the voice of humanity, the voice of the , and the voice of heaven seem to say to the honest and virtuous, throughout the State of ; Wash yourselves, make you clean, lest your negligence should be taken by the world, from the mass of facts before it, that you are guilty! Let there be one unison of hearts for justice, and when you reflect around your own firesides, remember that fifteen thousand, once among you, now not, but who are just as much entitled to the privileges and blessings you enjoy as yourselves; like the widow before the unjust judge, are fervently praying for their rights. When you meditate upon the massacre at , forget not that the constitution of your holds this broad truth to the world: that none shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.” And when you assemble together in towns, counties or districts, whether to petition your legislature to pay the damage the saints have sustained in your , by reason of oppression, and misguided zeal; or to restore them to their rights according to republican principles and benevolent designs, reflect, and make honorable, or annihilate, such statue law as was in force in your , in 1838; viz: “If twelve or more persons shall combine to levy war against any part of the people of this state, or to remove forcibly out of the , or from their habitations, evidenced by taking arms and assembling to accomplish such purpose, every person so offending shall be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary for a period not exceeding five years, or by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars: and imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months.”
Finally, if honor dignifies an honest people; if virtue exalts a community; if wisdom guides great men; if principle governs intelligent beings; if humanity spreads comfort among the needy; and if religion affords consolation by showing that charity is the first, best and sweetest token of perfect love: then, O ye good people of , like the woman in scripture who had lost one of her ten pieces of silver, arise, search diligently till you find the lost piece, and then make a feast and call in your friends for joy.
With due consideration
I am the friend
of all good men,
, Ill., March 8, 1844. [p. [2]]