Letter to James Arlington Bennet, 13 November 1843

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, Ill. Nov. <​13​> 1843.
Dear : your letter of the 24th ult. has been regularly received; its contents duly appreciated; and its whole tenor candidly considered; and, according to my manner of judging all things in righteousness, I proceed to answer you; and shall leave you to meditate whether mathematical problems founded upon the truth of revelation, or religion as promulgated by me or Moses can be solved by rules and principles existing in the system of common knowledge.
How far you are capable of being “a most undeviating friend, without being governed by the smallest religious influence,” will best be decided by your survivors, as all past experience most assuredly proves: without controversy, that friendship while intelligent beings would accept as sincere, must arise from love, and that love, grow out of virtue which is as much a part of religion, as light is a part of Jehovah. Hence the saying of Jesus: greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
You observe; “as I have proved myself to be a philosophical divine, I must excuse you, when you say that we must leave these influences to the mass.” The meani[n]g of “philosophical divine” may be taken in various ways: If, as the learned world apply the term, you infer that I have acheived a victory, and been strengthened by a scientific religion as as practised by the sects popular sects of the age, through <​the​> aid of Colleges seminar Bible societies, Mission<​ary​> boards, financial organozations, and gospel money then schemes, then you are wrong: such a combination of men and means, shows a form of Godliness without the power: for it is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit. after the rudiments of the world and not after doctrines [p. 1[a]] of Christ. But if the inference is, that, by more love more light, more virtue, and more truth from the Lord, I have succeded as an man of God, then you reason truly: though the weight of the sentiment is lost, when the influance <​is left​> to the mass,” rather than hazard your opinion upon matter Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Of course you follow out the figure, and say “The boldness of my plans and measures, together with their unparalleled success; so far, are calculated to throw a charm over my whole being; and to point me out as the most extraordinary man of the present age.” The boldness of my plans and measures, can readily be tested by the touch-stone of all schemes, systems, projects, and adventures,— truth, for truth is a matter of fact— and the fact is, that by the power of God I translated the book of Mormon hierogliphics from hierogliphics; the knowledge of which was lost to the world. In which wonderful event, I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries. with a new revelation; which, (if they would receive <​it​>) (the fulness of the everlasting gospel) would open the eyes of more than eight hundred millions of people, and make plain the “old paths,” wherein if a man walk in all the ordinances of God blameless, he shall inherit eternal life: And Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, has borne me safely over every snare and plan laid in secret, or openly, through priestly hypocrisy, sectarian prejudice, popular philosophy, executive power, or law defying mobocracy, to destroy me.
If, then, the hand of God, in all things that I have accomplished towards the salvation of a priest ridden generation, in the short space [p. 1[b]] of twelve years, through the “boldness of the plan of preaching <​the gospel​> and <​the boldness of the means [of]​> declaring repentance and baptism for the remission of sins: and a reception of the Holy Ghost, by laying on <​of the​> hands agreeably to the authority of the priesthood; and the still more bold measures of receiving direct revelation from God, through the Comforter, as promised, and by which means all holy men, from ancient times till now, have spoken and revealed the will of God to men, with the consequent “success” of the gathering of the Saints throws any “charm” around <​over​> my being and “points me out as the most extraordinary man of the age,” it demonstrates the fact that fact truth is mighty and will prevail; and that one man empowered from Jehovah, has <​more​> influence with the children of the Kingdom, than eight hundred millions lead by the precepts of men. God exalts the humble and debases the haughty.
But let me assure <​you​> in the name of of Jesus who spoke as never man spake, that the “boldness of the plans and measures,” as you term them, but which should be denominated the righteousness of the cause, the truth of the system and power of God, which “so far,” has born me and the church, in which I glory in having the privilege of being a member, successfully through the storm of reproach, folly, ignorance, malice, persecution, falsehood, sacerdotal wrath, newspaper satire, pamphlet libels, and the combined influence of the powers of earth and hell, I say these powers of righteousness and truth, are not the decrees or rules of an ambitions [ambitious] and aspiring Nimrod; [p. 2[a]] Pharoah; Nebuchadnezzar; Alexander; <​Mahomet​> Buonaparte; <​Mahamet​> or other great sounding heroes, that dazzled forth with <​a​> trail of pomp and circumstances for <​a​> little season, like a a comet, and then disappeared, leaving a wide waste where such an existence once was, with only a name: nor were are the glorious results of what you term “boldness of plans and measures,” with the attendant “success,” matured by the self aggrandising wisdom of the priests of Baal; the scribes and Pharasees; <​of the Jews​> Popes and bishops <​of Christendom​> <​or pagans of Jg​>; nor <​were they​> extended by the divisions and subdivisions of a Luther, a Calvin, a Wesley, or even a Campbell; supported by a galaxy of Clergymen and churchmen, of whatever name or nature, bound apart by cast Iron Creeds; and to set stakes, fastened to set stakes by chain cable opinions, without revelation; nor are they the lions of the land or the leviathans of the sea, moving among the elements, as distant chimeras to fatten the fancy of the infidel: but they are as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and will become a great mountain and fill the whole earth:
<​​>Was Were I an Egyptian I would exclaim= Floeese Floeese: <​Jah oh=eh​> Enish-go=on=dosh, Jah=oh=eh <​Flo-ees-Floisis​> a Hebrew: [2 Hebrew words]:—. a Greek [4 Greek words]: a Roman: Dominus regit me. a German: Gott gebe uns das licht: a Portugee: Senhor Jesu Christo e liberdade: a Frenchman: Dieu defend le droit.
but as I am I give God the glory, and say in in the beautiful figure of the poet:
“Could we with ink the Ocean fill;
Was the whole earth of parchment made;
And ev’ry single stick a quill; [p. [2b]]
And every man a scribe by trade:
To write the love, of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the whole upon a scroll,
Be spread from sky to sky.”
It seems that your mind is of such “a mathematical, and philosophical a cast, that the divinity of Moses makes no impression upon you; and that I will not be offended when you say, that you rate me higher, as a Legislator, than you do Moses, because you have me present with you for examination;” <​that​> a Moses derives his chief authority from prescription and the lapse of time: you can not however say, but we are both right: it being out of the power of man to prove us wrong. It is no mathmatical problem, and can therefore get no mathematical solution.”
Now, Sir, to cut the matter short, and not da[l]ly with your learned ideas, for fashion’s sake, you have here given your opinion, without reserve, that revelation, the knowledge of God, prophetic visions, the truth of eternity can not be solved as a mathematical problem. The first question, then, is:— what is a mathematical problem? And the natural answer is, a statement, proposition, or question, that can be solved ascertained unfolded or demonstrated, by knowledge, facts, or figures: for “mathematical” is an adjective derived from [1 Greek word] (gr.) meaning in English, learning or knowledge: “Problem” is derived from probleme, French; or problema Latin, Italian and <​or​> Spanish, and in each language, means a question or proposition, whether true or false. “Solve” is derived from the Latin verb solvo, to explain or answer: one thing more, in order to prove the work as we proceed; it is necessary to have witnesses, two or three of whose testimonies, according to the laws or rules of God and man, are sufficient to establish any one point.
Now, two for the questions: How much are one and one? Two. How much is one from two? one. [p. 3[a]] very well one question, or problem is solved by figures. Now let me ask one for facts: was there ever such a place on the earth, as Egypt? Geography says, yes; ancient history says, yes, and the bible says, yes, so three witnesses have solved that question. Again: lived there ever such a man as Moses in Egypt? The same witnesses reply, certainly. And was he a prophet? The same witnesses <​or a part,​> have left an record, that Moses predicted in Leviticus, that if Israel broke the covenant they had made, the Lord would scatter thence among the nations till the land enjoyed her sabbaths: and subsequently <​these witnesses​> have testified of their captivity in Babylon and other places in fulfilment. But to make assurance doubly sure, Moses prayes that the ground might open and swallow up Korah and his company for transgression, and it was so: And he endorses the prophecy of Balaam, which said, Out of Jacob shall come, he that shall have dominion and shall destroy him that remaineth of the city; And Jude the Apostle of Jesus Christ fifteen hundred years after, as “as him that had dominion,” came about fifteen hundred years after, in accordance of <​with this and​> the prediction of Moses, David, Isaiah and many others, came, saying Moses wrote of <​me;​> declaring the dispersion of the Jews and the utter destruction of “the city” and the Apostles were his witness <​unimpeached​> especially Jude, who not only endorses the facts of Moses “divinity,” but <​also the​> events of Balaam and Korah with many others, as true!* <​*Besides these tangible facts so easible proven and demonstrated by simple rules and testimony unimpeached, the art <​(now lost)​> of embalming (now lost) human bodies and preserving them in the catacombs of Egypt, whereby men, women, and children, or mummies, after a lapse of near 3500 years, came forth among the living and although Dead the papyrus which has lived unharmed in their bosoms, speaks for them in language like the sound of an earthquake—— Ecce veritas! Ecce cadaveros! Behold the truth! Behold mummies!​> Oh my dear sir, the sunken Tyre and Sidon, the melancholly dust of <​where​> <​“the City” of​> Jerusalem, <​on[c]e was​> and the mourn[i]ng of the Jews among the nations, together with such a “cloud of witness”, if you had been as well acquainted with your god and bible as with your purse and pence table, the “divinity” of Moses would have dispelled the fog of five thousand years and filled you with light: for facts, like diamonds, not [p. [3b]] only cut glass, but they are the most pricious jewels on earth. <​The spirit of the prophecy, is the testimony of Jesus.​>
The world at large, is every ready to credit the writings of Homer, Hesiad [Hesiod], Pluturch [Plutarch], Socrates, Pythagoras, Virgil Josephus <​Mahomet​> and an hundred others but where, tell me where, have they left a line, that a simple method of solving the the truth of this place of eternal <​life​>? Says the Saviour “If any man will do his (the Father’s) will, he shall know of the doctrine, whither it be of God, or whither I speak of myself.” Here, <​then​>, is a problem that <​or more properly​> a method of solving the “divinity” of men, by the divinity in yourself, that as far exceeds the calculation by numbers, as the sun excels a candle well might Jesus would to god that all men understood <​it​>, and were willing to be governed by it— that when We one had filled the measure of his days <​he​> could exclaim like Jesus: “Veni mori, et revivescere!” Your good wishes to “go ahead coupled with Mahomet and a ‘right hand man’,” are rather more vain than virtuous. Why, sir, Caesar had his right hand Brutus, who was his “left hand” assassin. <​not however applying the allusion to you​>
As to the private seal you mention, if sent to me, I shall receive it with the gratitude of a servant of God, and pray that the donor may receive a reward in the the resurrection of the just.
The summit of your fame future fame seems to be hid in the political policy of a “mathematical problem for the chief majestracy of this , which, if I suppose might be solved by “double position” where the errors of the supposition are used to produce a true answer: But, sir, when I leave the dignity and honor I received from heaven, to boost a man into power through the aid of my friends, where the evil and designing, after the object has been accomplished, can back up the clemency intended as a reciprocation for such favors; and where [p. 4[a]] the wicked and principled, as a matter of course, would sieze the opportunity, to flintify the heart of the nation against <​me​> for dabbling at a sly game in politics; verily, I say, when I leave <​the​> dignity and honor of heaven, to gratify the ambition and vanity of man or men, may my power cease, like the Strenth of Samsan, when he was shorn of his locks while asleep in the lap of Delilah. Truly said the Savior, Cast not your your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet and turn again and rend you.
Shall I, who have witnessed the visions of eternity; and beheld the glories of the mansions of bliss; and the regions and misery of the damned; shall I turn <​to be​> a Judas? Shall I, who have heard the voice of God, and communed with angels; and spake as moved by the Holy Ghost for the renewal of the everlasting covenant, and for the gathering of Israel in the last days; Shall I worm myself into a political hypocrite? Shall I, who hold the keys of the last kingdom, in which is the dispensation of the fulness of all things spoken by the mouths of all the <​holy​> prophets since the world began; under the authority <​sealing power​> of the Melchizedek priesthood; shall I stoop from the sublime authority of Almighty God, to be handled as a monkey’s cat’s paw,— and pettify myself into a clown to act the farce of political demagoguery? No, no <​verily​>; no! The whole earth shall bear me witness that I <​like the towering Rock, in the midst of the ocean, which has withstood the mighty surges of the warring waves, for centuries, am impregnable,​> <​and​> am a faithful friend to virtue, and a fearless <​foe​> to vice; no odds whether the former was sold as a pearl in Asia, or hid as a gem in ; and the latter dazzles in palaces or glimmers among the tombs.
I combat the errors of ages; and <​I​> meet the violence of mobs; and <​I​> cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I and cut the Gordian knot of powers; and I solve mathematical problems of Universities; with truth, diamond truth, and God is my “right hand man.” [p. [4b]]
And to close, let me say in the name of Jesus Christ, to you, and to presidents, Emperors, Kings, Queens, Governors, rulers, nobles, and men in authority every where, do the works of righteousness; ex[e]cute justice and judgement in the earth that God may bless you and her inhabitants, and
The laurel that grows on the top of the mountain shall green for your fame while the sun sheds a ray; and the lily that blows by the side of the fountain, shall <​will​> bloom for your virtue, till earth melts away.
With due consideration and respect I have the honor to be your most obt Sevt.
Joseph Smith
Gen )
New York)
<​P. S. The <​court​> Martial will attend to your case in the .—​>
<Nov. 13th 1843
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    Insertion in the handwriting of Willard Richards.  

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    Docket in handwriting of Willard Richards.