Letter to Newel Knight and the Church in Colesville, 28 August 1830

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Aug 20. [28] 1830
Dearly beloved in the Lord
We are under necessity to disappoint you this time for reasons which I shall mention hereafter, but trusting that your meeting may not be an unprofitable one May you all realize the necessity of getting together often to pray [p. 128] and supplicate at the Throne of grace, that the spirit of the Lord may always rest upon you. Remember that without asking we can receive nothing, therefore ask in faith, and ye shall receive such blessings as God sees fit to bestow upon you. Pray not with covetous hearts that ye may consume it upon your lusts, but pray earnestly for the best gifts— fight the good fight of faith, that ye may gain the Crown which is laid up in for those [p. 129] that endure faithful unto the end of their probation. Therefore hold fast that which ye have received so liberally from the hand of God so that when the time of refreshing shall come ye may not have labored in vain, but that ye may rest from all your labors and have fulness of joy in the Kingdom of God.
“Dearly beloved brethren we are not ignorant of your tribulation, knowing that ye are placed among ravening [p. 130] wolves, therefore we have the more earnest desire to come to see you, but our friends from the west have not yet come, and we can get no horse and wagon, and we are not able to come afoot so far, therefore we cannot come this Saturday, but we look for our friends from the west every day and with safety we can promise to come next Saturday, if the Lord will; therefore our desire is that ye should assemble yourselves together next Saturday [p. 131] So that all things will be in order when we come. Be careful that the enemy of all righteousness will not get the advantage over you in getting the news abroad. Were it not for the prayers of you few, the Almighty would have thundered down his wrath upon the inhabitants of that place; but be not faint, the day of your deliverance is not far distant, for the judgements of the Lord are already abroad in the earth, and the cold hand of [p. 132] death, will soon pass through your neighborhood, and sweep away some of your most bitter enemies, for you need not suppose that God will be mocked at, and his be trampled under their feet in such a manner as your enemies do, without visiting them in his wrath when they are fully ripe, and behold the angel cries, thrust in your sickle for the harvest is fully ripe; and the earth will soon be reaped.— that is, the wicked [p. 133] must soon be destroyed from off the face of the earth, for the Lord hath spoken it, and who can stay the hand of the Lord, or who is there that can measure arms with the Almighty, for at his commands the heavens and the earth must pass away, for the day is fast hastening on when the restoration of all things shall be fulfilled, which all the Holy Prophets have prophecid of even unto the gathering in of the House of Israel. Then shall come to pass that the [p. 134] lion shall lie down with the lamb &c. But brethren be not dis-couraged when we tell you of perilous times, for they must shortly come, for the sword, famine, and pestilence <​are​> approaching, for there shall be great destructions upon the face of this land, for ye need not suppose that one jot or tittle of the prophecies of all the Holy Prophets shall fail, and there are many that remain to be fulfilled [p. 135] yet, and the Lord hath said that a short work will he make of it, and the righteous shall be saved if it be as by fire.
“May the grace of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost be and abide with you from henceforth and forever, Amen.
Joseph Smith
P.S. waited until Saturday morning and our friends have not yet arrived. Please send ’s Letter and also the Priest’s with , and oblige [p. 137 missing] [p. 136]


  1. 1

    Bracketed correction based on earlier, incomplete copy of this letter. (Knight, Autobiography and Journal, 21; see also Historical Introduction to this letter.)  

    Knight, Newel. Autobiography and Journal, ca. 1846. CHL. MS 767.

  2. 2

    TEXT: Residue from an adhesive partially covers the words “Dearly” and “Lord”, as well as “you all” and “necessity” on the last line of the page, indicating that a separate slip of paper was likely attached to this page at one time.  

  3. 3

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 515, 576 [4 Nephi 1:12; Moroni 6:5]; and Hebrews 4:16.  

  4. 4

    See the sacramental prayers in Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830, in Book of Commandments 24:57, 59 [D&C 20:77, 79].  

  5. 5

    See James 4:3; 1 Corinthians 12:31; 1 Timothy 6:12; and 2 Timothy 4:8.  

  6. 6

    See Acts 3:19.  

  7. 7

    See Revelation 14:13.  

  8. 8

    See Matthew 7:15.  

  9. 9

    These “friends from the west” probably were David Whitmer and Hyrum Smith, who soon after this letter was written arrived from Fayette, New York (some eighty miles to the northwest), and shortly thereafter transported JS and John Whitmer to Colesville. (JS History, vol. A-1, 53.)  

  10. 10

    28 August 1830. (See postscript to this letter.)  

  11. 11

    See Acts 13:10.  

  12. 12

    Of this plan to keep the forthcoming meeting secret, JS’s history records, “We had called upon our Heavenly Father in mighty prayer, that he would grant us an opportunity of meeting with them; that he would blind the eyes of our enemies, so that they would not know us, and that we might on this occasion return unmolested.— Our prayers were not in vain, for, when within a little distance of Mr Knights [Joseph Knight Sr.’s] place, we encountered a large company at work upon the public road, among whom were several of our most bitter enemies. They looked earnestly at us, but not knowing us, we passed on with out interruption.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 53.)  

  13. 13

    See Genesis 18:20–33; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 442 [Helaman 13:12–13].  

  14. 14

    See Jeremiah 14:12; 29:17–18; 44:13; and Ezekiel 6:11; 12:16.  

  15. 15

    A revelation dated shortly after this letter was written reiterated this theme. (See Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:9–11].)  

  16. 16

    See Romans 9:28.  

  17. 17

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 58 [1 Nephi 22:17].  

  18. 18

    “William” is perhaps William Stringham, one of the Colesville converts and Newel Knight’s brother-in-law. Joseph and Polly Peck Knight’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Polly, had become the target of a local priest’s tirade against the Church of Christ. According to Newel Knight’s recollection, the priest “had chosen my sister Polly as a mark for his abuse,” but in an exchange of letters with Polly, “the priest was so decidedly used up, that he was glad to give it up, and back out completely whipped.” (Knight, History, 143–144; see also Porter, “Study of the Origins,” 202, 300.)  

    Knight, Newel. History. Private possession. Copy in CHL. MS 19156.

    Porter, Larry C. “A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831.” PhD diss., Brigham Young University, 1971. Also available as A Study of the Origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the States of New York and Pennsylvania, 1816–1831, Dissertations in Latter-day Saint History (Provo, UT: Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History; BYU Studies, 2000).