Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 14 January 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Geauga Co Ohio Jany. 14— 1833
From a of 12 to the his and the inhabitants of , and being appointed by the said conference to write this Epistle in obedience to the given the 22 & 23 of Sept last which says “But verily I say unto you all those to whom the kingdom has been given from you it must be preached unto all them that they shall repent of their former evil works for they are to be upbraided for their evil hearts of unbelief and your brethren in for their rebellion against you at the time I sent you.” Bro Joseph & certain <​others​> have writen to you upon this all important subject, but you have <​never​> been apprised of these things by the united voice of a conference of those high priests that were present at the time this commandment was given, we therefore & the committe appointed by said conference to write this Epistle having received the prayers of sd conference that we might be enabled to write the mind & will of God upon this subject, now take up our pen to address you in the name of the conference, relying upon the arm of the Great Head of the , in the commandment above alluded to the Children of were all, yea even evry one under condemnation, and were to remain in that state until they repented and remembred the new covenant even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which the Lord had given them, not only to say but to do them and bring forth fruit meet for ther Fathers Kingdom otherwise. [p. 20] there remaineth a scourge & a judgment to be poured out upon the children of , for shall the children of the Kingdom pollute my holy land I say unto you nay— The answers received from those letters which have been sent to you upon this subject have failed to bring to us that satisfactory confession and acknowledgment which the spirit of our Master requires— we therefore feeling a deep intrest for & knowing the judgments of God that will come upon her except she repent; resort to these last, and most efficient means in our power to bring her to a sense of her standing before the most High, At the time Joseph & left , all matters of hardness and misunderstanding were settled and buried (as they supposed) and you gave them the hand of fellowship but afterwards you brought up all these things again in a sensorious spirit accusing Bro Joseph in rather an indirect way in of seeking after Monarchal power and authority, this came to us in letter of June 2d., We are sensable that this is not the thing Bro J is seeking after, but to magnify the high office and calling whereunto he has been called and appointed by the command of God and the united voice of this Church, It might not be a miss for you to call to mind the circumstances of the and the Children of Israel rising up against their prophets and accusing them of seeking after Kingly power &c— and see what befel them and take warning before it is to[o] late s letter of Dec 10th. has been received and read attentively, and the low, dark, & blind insinuations which were in it were not received by us as from the fountain of light, though his claims and pretentions to holiness were great, we are not unwilling to be chastened or rebuked for our faults but we want to receive it in Language that we can understand, as Nathan said to David, Thou art the man We are aware that s is doing much, and a multitude of business on hand but let him purge out all the old leaven and do his business in the spirit of the Lord. and then the Lord will bless him <​otherwise the frown of the Lord will remain upon him—​> There is ma[n]ifestly an uneassness in , and a fearfulness that God will not provide for his saints in their last days and these fears lead him on to covitousness, This ought not so to be, but let him do just as the Lord has commanded him and then the Lord will open his coffers, and his wants will be liberally supplied, But if this uneasy covetous disposition be cherished by him the Lord will bring him to poverty shame, and disgrace, letter is also received of Dec [p. 21] 15th and carefully read, and it betrays a lightness of spirit that ill becomes a man plased in the important and responsable station that he is placed in;— If you have fat beef and potatoes eat them in singleness of heart. and boast not yourselves in these things think not Brethren that we make a man an offender for a word this is not the case, but we want to see a spirit in by which the Lord will build it up, that is the plain solem and pure spirit of Christ; requested in his last letter that Bro Joseph should come to , but we say that Br J. will not settle in until she repent and purify herself & abide by the , and remember the which have been given her, to do them as well as say them You may think it strange that we manifest no cheerfulness of heart upon the reception of your letters, you may think that our minds are pregudiced so much that we can see no good that comes from you, but rest assured brethren that this is not the case, We have the best of feelings, and feelings of the greatest anxiety for the welfare of we feel more like weeping over than we do like rejoicing over her, for we know the judgments of God that hang over her and will fall upon her except she repent and purify herself before the Lord and put away from her evry foul spirit— we now say to this once in the name of the Lord, Repent! Repent! Awake! Awake! put on thy beautiful garments before you are made to feel the chastning rod of him whose anger is kind[l]ed against you, let not tempt you to think we want to make you bow to us to domaneur over you for God knows this is not the case our eyes are watered with tears and our hearts are poured out to God in prayer for you that he will spare you and turn away his anger from you, There is are many things in the last letters from Brs and that are good and we esteem them much, The Idea of having certain ones appointed to regulate and travling have nothing to do with this part of the matter is something that we highly approbate, and you will doubtless know before this reaches you why opposed you [p. 22] in this move— We fear there was something in s when he returned to this place from last fall in relation to his Bro William that was not right, For was asked 2 or 3 times about his Bro W, but gave evasive answers, and at the same time he knew that William was in , but the Lord has taken him we merely mention this that all may take warning to work in the light for God will bring evry secret thing to Light, we now close our Epistle by saying unto you the Lord has commanded us to purify ourselves, to wash our hands and our feet that he might testify to his father and our Father to his God & our God that we are clean from the blood of this Generations and before we could wash our our hands and our feet we were constrained to write this letter, Therefore with the feelings of inexpressable anxiety for your welfare we say again Repent Rep[en]t or must suffer, for the scourge and judgments must come upon her, Let the read this to the that they may warn the members of the scourge that is coming exept they repent. Tell them to read the Book of Commandments Mormon and obey it, read the commandments that are printed and obey them. yea humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that peradventure he may turn away his anger from you, tell them that they have not come up to to sit down in idleness neglecting the things of God, but they are to be dilligent and faithful in obeying the , There is one clause in Br Joseph Letter which you may not understand. that is this if the people of did not repent the Lord would seek another place, and another people, is the place where the will be built, and the people but all people upon that holy Land being under condemnation, the lord will cut off if they repent not and bring another race upon it that will serve him, The Lord will seek another place to bring forth and prepare his word to go forth to the nations, and as we said before so we say again Bro Joseph will not settle in [p. 23] except she repent and serve God and obey the with this explanation the sanctions Bro Joseph letter— Brethren the conference meets again this evening to hear this Letter read and if it meets their minds we have all agreed to kneel down before the Lord and cry unto him with all our hearts that this epistle & Bro Js. and the revelations also may have there desired effect and accomplish the things whereunto they are sent and that they may stimulate you to cleans that she mourn not, Therefore when you get this know ye that a conference of 12 have cried unto the Lord for you and are still crying saying spare thy peopl[e] O! Lord and give not thy heritage to reproach, We now feel that our garments are clean from you, and all men, when we have washed our hand & our feet & hands according to the We have written plain at this time but we believe not harsh, Plainly Plainness is what the Lord requires and we should not feel ourselves clean unless we had done so, and if the things we have told you be not attended to you will not long have occasion to say or to think rather that we may be rong in what we have stated Your unworthy brethren are determined to pray unto the Lord for as so long as we can shed a tear the sympathising tear, or feel any spirit of to supplicate a throne of Grace in her behalf, will commence if the Lord will in 2 or 3 days, a general time of health with us the cause of God seems to be rapidly advancing in the eastern country countries, the gifts begining to break forth so as to astonish the world, and even believers marvel at the power and goodness of God, Thanks be rendered to his holy name for what he is doing, We are your unworthy brethren in the Lord & may the Lord help us all to do his will that we may at last be saved in his kingdom——
[p. 24]
N. B. we stated that knew that William was in last fall, when he was in , we wrote this upon the strength of hearsay, but Wm being left at strengthened our suppositions that such was the fact, we stated farther respecting this matter or this itim than the testamony will warrant us— with this exception the sanctions this letter [p. 25]


  1. 1

    Edward Partridge was the bishop in Missouri. His counselors were Isaac Morley and John Corrill. (Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41]; Minutes, ca. 3–4 June 1831.)  

  2. 2

    Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:76]. The “you” referred to in the revelation is JS, who visited the Missouri congregations in the spring of 1832. (Letter to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832.)  

  3. 3

    See Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833.  

  4. 4

    Before adjourning on 13 January, the conference resolved “that prayer be offered up by all the members of the conference that the epistle written might have the desired effect.” The minutes also note that Hyde and Hyrum Smith had “the prayers of the conferen[ce] for the holy spirit to direct them in writing the said Epistle.” (Minutes, 13–14 Jan. 1833.)  

  5. 5

    See Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:54–59]. Phelps commented on this condemnation in the January 1833 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star: “The inhabitants of Zion are brought under condemnation for neglecting the book of Mormon, from which they not only received the new covenant, but the fulness of the gospel.” He then asked, “Has this been done for the sake of hunting mysteries in the prophecies? or has it come to pass by carelessness?” This same issue carried an extensive explanation of the Book of Mormon. (“Some of Mormon’s Teaching,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [4]; “The Book of Mormon,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Jan. 1833, [1]–[3].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  6. 6

    JS, Rigdon, and Whitney departed Jackson County on 6 May 1832. (JS History, vol. A-1, 214.)  

  7. 7

    In the spring of 1832, JS, Rigdon, Whitney, and Jesse Gause traveled to Jackson County, Missouri. They conducted several meetings with leaders in Independence, including one in which difficulties between Rigdon and Edward Partridge were supposedly resolved. In this same meeting, the high priests in attendance sustained JS as president of the high priesthood, and Partridge gave him the right hand of fellowship on behalf of the church in Missouri. (Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832.)  

  8. 8

    Corrill’s letter is not extant, but in a 31 July 1832 letter to Phelps, JS explained that Corrill’s letter “gave us this inteligence, that the Devel had been to work with all his inventive immagination to reward us for our toils in travling from this country to Zion.” The letter, JS continued, mentioned “those things which had been settled & forgiven & which they dare not bring to our faces.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  

  9. 9

    In July 1832, JS stated that the charges Corrill made against him were “absolutely false & could not come from any other sourse than the fath[e]r of all lies.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  

  10. 10

    When the church was officially organized on 6 April 1830, a revelation designated JS as “a seer & Translater & Prop[h]et an Apostle of Jesus Christ an Elder of the Church” and instructed the church to “give heed unto all his words & commandments which he ghall [shall] give unto you.” According to a later JS history, the church, “by an unanimous vote,” received him and Oliver Cowdery “as their teachers in the things of the Kingdom of God.” Subsequently, at a 25 January 1832 conference in Amherst, Ohio, JS was ordained as president of the high priesthood. (Revelation, 6 Apr. 1830 [D&C 21:1, 4]; JS History, vol. A-1, 37; Minutes, 26–27 Apr. 1832.)  

  11. 11

    It is not clear what specific incidents in the Book of Mormon and the Bible Hyde and Smith are referring to, but several possibilities exist. In the Book of Mormon, Laman and Lemuel, the brothers of Nephi, accuse him of seeking to be a ruler over them. After the death of their father, the family splits into two groups—Nephites and Lamanites—mainly because of Laman and Lemuel’s attempts to kill Nephi for “think[ing] to rule over us.” The Nephites “observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord” and therefore “prosper exceedingly.” The Lamanites are not obedient and are “cut off” from the presence of the Lord for a time. In the Bible, chapter 16 of the book of Numbers gives an account of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelling against Moses and Aaron, in part because of their belief that Moses is trying to make himself “altogether a prince over us.” Korah, Dathan, and Abiram are eventually swallowed up by the earth. (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 71–73 [2 Nephi 5:2–5, 10–11, 20–24]; Numbers 16:12–13, 31–33.)  

  12. 12

    See 2 Samuel 12:7.  

  13. 13

    See 1 Corinthians 5:7.  

  14. 14

    A July 1831 revelation reiterated a commandment that Gilbert “be an agent unto the church to buy lands in all the regions round about.” It also instructed Gilbert to “establish a store that he may sell goods without fraud that he may obtain money to buy lands for the good of the Saints.” Gilbert had established the store, using funding provided by Whitney. (Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:6, 8]; Staker, Hearken, O Ye People, 229–230; see also Revelation, 8 June 1831 [D&C 53].)  

    Staker, Mark L. Hearken, O Ye People: The Historical Setting of Joseph Smith’s Ohio Revelations. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2009.

  15. 15

    See Isaiah 29:21.  

  16. 16

    Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:57]. There is no evidence that JS had made any plans to move himself or his family to Missouri at this time.  

  17. 17

    In his letter to Phelps, JS stated, “The Brethren in Kirtland pray for you unceasingly, for knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear.” He also explained that “if the fountain of our tears are not dried up we will still weep for zion, this from your brother who trembles greatly for Zion,— and for the wrath of heaven which awaits her if she repent not.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833.)  

  18. 18

    See Isaiah 52:1.  

  19. 19

    Hyde and Smith may be referring to an action taken by a council of high priests in Missouri on 3 December 1832. At this council, Isaac Morley and Corrill were appointed to regulate the different branches in Zion. Gilbert was made a member of a committee that would receive and consider recommendations from Morley and Corrill on who should be ordained high priests, elders, and priests in those branches. Apparently, high priests and elders appointed to preach had gone to Zion and assumed authority to direct the operations of branches there, rather than recognizing the authority of those leaders already designated to preside in Missouri. McLellin may have been one of those attempting to direct the branches, or he may have opposed Gilbert’s appointment to this committee. (Minute Book 2, 3 Dec. 1832; JS History, vol. A-1, 283.)  

  20. 20

    Likely Lewis William Gilbert, brother of Sidney Gilbert. Lewis William Gilbert died on 24 October 1832 in St. Louis after contracting a severe case of cholera. (Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, 655; “Cholera,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Nov. 1832, [6].)  

    Jacobus, Donald Lines, comp. Familes of Ancient New Haven. Vol. 1–3. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1974.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  21. 21

    TEXT: Or “Generation,”. See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:74–75].  

  22. 22

    The Book of Commandments was being printed in January 1833, but at the time this letter was written, published revelations were most widely available in The Evening and the Morning Star, where Phelps had been printing them since June 1832. (Notice, The Evening and the Morning Star, Dec. 1832, [8]; see also “Revelations Printed in The Evening and the Morning Star.”)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  23. 23

    See 1 Peter 5:6.  

  24. 24

    Days before this letter was composed, JS wrote that “if Zion, will not purify herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight he will seek— another people for his work will go on untill Isreal is gathered.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833.)  

  25. 25

    See Revelation, 20 July 1831 [D&C 57:1–3].  

  26. 26

    According to the minutes, three eldersWilliam Smith, John F. Boynton, and John Reed—also attended. (Minutes, 13–14 Jan. 1833.)  

  27. 27

    See Joel 2:17.  

  28. 28

    Revelations of 27–28 December 1832 and 3 January 1833 instructed the Saints to establish a school for the “first elders” of the church. As Samuel Smith recorded in his journal, “The Lord commanded the first Elders to Establi[sh] a school & appoint a teacher among them & get l[e]arning by study & by faith get a knowledge of countries & languages & thus the School of the Prophets was established.” (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]; Revelation, 3 Jan. 1833 [D&C 88:127–137]; Samuel Smith, Diary, 8 May 1833; see also Minutes, 22–23 Jan. 1833.)  

    Smith, Samuel. Diary, Feb. 1832–May 1833. CHL. MS 4213.

  29. 29

    Hyde and Samuel Smith had only recently returned from preaching in the eastern United States. According to a report in The Evening and the Morning Star, they baptized sixty individuals and “built up four churches” in Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Hyrum Smith and William Smith had also recently returned from a three-week mission to Pennsylvania, where they baptized twenty-three people. In addition, Lyman Johnson and Orson Pratt had baptized “nearly one hundred” in the East, and Simeon Carter and Jared Carter had baptized over one hundred in Vermont and other eastern states. (“Extracts of Letters from the Elders Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Feb. 1833, [5].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  30. 30

    Although the minutes of the meeting do not record it, the conference apparently sanctioned everything in the letter except the specific assertions about Sidney Gilbert knowing his brother William was in Cleveland. (See Minutes, 13–14 Jan. 1833.)