Letter to Saints Scattered Abroad, September 1840

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Beloved Brethren:
We address a few lines to the , who have obeyed from the heart, that form of doctrine which has been delivered to them by the servants of the Lord, and who are desirous to go forward in the ways of truth and righteousness, [p. [177]] and by obedience to the heavenly command, escape the things which are coming on the earth and secure to themselves an inheritance among the sanctified in the world to come.
Having been placed in a very responsible situation in the , we at all times feel interested in the welfare of the Saints and make mention of them continually in our prayers to our heavenly Father, that they may be kept from the evils which are in the world and ever be found walking in the path of truth.
The work of the Lord in these last days, is one of vast magnitude and almost beyond the comprehension of mortals: its glories are past description and its grandeur insurpassable. It has been the theme which has animated the bosom of prophets and righteous men from the creation of this world down through every succeeding generation to the present time; and it is truly the , when all things which are in Christ Jesus, whether in heaven or on the earth, shall be gathered together in him, and when all things shall be restored, as spoken of by all the holy prophets since the world began: for in it will take place the glorious fulfillment of the promises made to the fathers, while the displays of the power of the Most High will be great, glorious, and sublime.
The purposes of our God are great, his love unfathomable, his wisdom infinite, and his power unlimited; therefore, the Saints have cause to rejoice and be glad, knowing that “this God is our God forever and ever and he will be our guide unto death.”
Having confidence in the power, wisdom and love of God, the Saints have been enabled to go forward through the most adverse circumstances, and frequently when to all human appearances nothing but death presented itself, and destruction, inevitable, has the power of God been manifest, his glory revealed, and deliverance effected; and the Saints, like the children of Israel who came out of the land of Egypt, and through the Red Sea, have sung an anthem of praise to his holy name: this has not only been the case in former ages, but in our own days, and within a few months, have we seen this fully verified.
Having, through the kindness of our God, been delivered from destruction, and secured a location upon which we have again commenced opperations for the good of his people, we feel disposed to go forward and unite our energies for the upbuilding of the kingdom, and establishing the in their fulness and glory.
The work which has to be accomplished in the last days is one of vast importance, and will call into action the energy, skill, talent, and ability of the Saints, so that it may roll forth with that glory and majesty described by the prophets: and will consequently require the concentration of the Saints, to accomplish works of such magnitude and grandeur.
The work of the spoken of in the scriptures, will be necessary to bring about the glories of the last dispensation: It is probably unnecessary to press this subject on the Saints, as we believe the spirit of it is manifest, and its necessity obvious to every considerate mind; and every one zealous for the promotion of truth and righteousness, is equally so for the gathering of the Saints.
Dear brethren feeling desirous to carry out the purposes of God, to which we have been called; and to be co-workers with him in this last dispensation: we feel the necessity of having the hearty co-operation of the Saints throughout this land, and upon the Islands of the sea; and it will be necessary for them to hearken to council, and turn their attention to the church, the establishment of the kingdom, and lay aside every selfish principle, every thing low, and groveling; and stand forward in the cause of truth, and assist to the utmost of their power, those to whom has been given the pattern and design; and like those who held up the hands of Moses, hold up the hands of those who are appointed to direct the affairs of the kingdom, so that they may be strengthened, and be enabled to prosecute their great designs and be instrumental in effecting the great work of the last days.
Believing the time has now come when it is necessary to erect a house of prayer, a house of order, a house for [p. 178] the worship of our God; where the can be attended to agreably to his divine will, in this region of country; to accomplish which, considerable exertion must be made, means will be required; and as the work must be hastened in righteousness, it behooves the , to weigh the importance of these things, in their minds, in all their bearings, and then take such steps as are necessary to carry them into operation; and arm themselves with courage, resolve to do all they can, and feel themselves as much interested, as though the whole labor depended on themselves alone; by so doing they will emulate the glorious deeds of the Fathers, and secure the blessing of heaven upon themselves and their posteri[t]y to the latest generation.
To those who feel thus interested, and can assist in this great work, we say let them come to this place, by so doing they will not only assist in the rolling of the kingdom, but be in a situation where they can have the advantages of instruction from the and other authorities of the church, and rise higher and higher in the scale of intel[li]gence, until they “can comprehend with all Saints the length and breadth and debth and height, and know the love of God which passeth knowledge.”
Connected with the building up of the kingdom, is the printing and circulation of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Hymn book and the new translation of Scriptures, It is unnecessary to say any thing respecting these works; those who have read them, and who have drank of the stream of knowledge, which they convey, know how to appreciate them, and although fools may have them in derision, yet they are calculated to make men wise unto salvation, and sweep away the cobwebs of superstition of ages, throw a light on the proceedings of Jehovah which have already been accomplished and mark out the future in all its dreadful and glorious realities; those who have tasted the benefit derived from a study of those works, will undoubtedly vie with each other in their zeal for sending them abroad throughout the world, that every son of Adam may enjoy the same privileges and rejoice in the same truths.
Here then, beloved brethren is a work to engage in worthy of arch-angels; a work which will cast into the shade the things which have heretofore been accomplished; a work which kings and prophets and righteous men, in former ages have sought, expected, and earnestly desired to see, but died without the sight: and well, will it be for those who shall aid in carrying into effect the mighty operations of Jehovah.
By order of the ,
, Sept. 1840. [p. 179]


  1. 1

    See Acts 20:32.  

  2. 2

    See Ephesians 1:10.  

  3. 3

    See Acts 3:21.  

  4. 4

    See JS History, vol. A-1, 5–6; and Acts 26:6.  

  5. 5

    See Psalm 48:14.  

  6. 6

    See Exodus chaps. 13–14.  

  7. 7

    This sentence refers to the conflicts in northern Missouri, which culminated when Missouri governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered that the Saints be driven from the state or exterminated. Church leaders subsequently purchased extensive tracts of land in Hancock County and immediately across the Mississippi River in Lee County, Iowa Territory. The Saints viewed this acquisition of land as a deliverance from the hostilities and persecution in Missouri. (Lilburn W. Boggs, Jefferson City, MO, to John B. Clark, Fayette, MO, 27 Oct. 1838, copy, Mormon War Papers, Missouri State Archives, Jefferson City; Bonds from Horace Hotchkiss, 12 Aug. 1839–A and B; Lee Co., IA, Land Records, 1836–1961, Deeds [South, Keokuk], vol. 1, pp. 507–509, microfilm 959,238; vol. 2, pp. 3–6, 13–16, microfilm 959,239, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL.)  

    Mormon War Papers, 1838–1841. MSA.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  8. 8

    See, for example, Ephesians 1:10; Deuteronomy 30:3; and Isaiah 54:7.  

  9. 9

    See Exodus 17:12.  

  10. 10

    The first temple, or House of the Lord, built by the Saints in Kirtland, Ohio, was mandated by a December 1832 revelation. Both that revelation and the prayer offered at the dedication of the completed structure on 27 March 1836 described the building as “a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.” (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:119]; Minutes and Prayer of Dedication, 27 Mar. 1836 [D&C 109:8].)  

  11. 11

    A few weeks after this letter was published, a conference of the church in Nauvoo resolved that church members should devote one out of every ten days to assist with building the temple. (Minutes and Discourse, 3–5 Oct. 1840.)  

  12. 12

    On 5 October 1839, a general conference of the church unanimously agreed that Commerce, Illinois, later renamed Nauvoo, would be the new gathering place of the church. (Minutes and Discourses, 5–7 Oct. 1839.)  

  13. 13

    Ephesians 3:18–19.  

  14. 14

    Requests had been made for new printings of the scriptures and hymnals to make them more widely available. At this time, JS and Ebenezer Robinson were preparing a new edition of the Book of Mormon, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was compiling a new hymnal in England, Emma Smith had been appointed to select hymns for a new hymnal in Nauvoo, and funds were being collected to publish a “new translation” of the Bible that JS had worked on from 1830 to 1833. Efforts were being made to print the Doctrine and Covenants both in England and the United States, though the next edition of that book did not appear until 1844. (Letter from Parley P. Pratt, 22 Nov. 1839; Letter from Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 1 May 1840; [Don Carlos Smith], “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:144; Ebenezer Robinson, “Items of Personal History of the Editor,” Return, May 1890, 259; Minutes, 27 Oct. 1839; “From England,” Times and Seasons, June 1840, 1:120–121; Letter from Brigham Young, 7 May 1840; Faulring et al., Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible, 3–8; “Books!!!,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:140; Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:121–124, 129–133, 148–151, 154–155, 277–280.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

    The Return. Davis City, IA, 1889–1891; Richmond, MO, 1892–1893; Davis City, 1895–1896; Denver, 1898; Independence, MO, 1899–1900.

    Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.

    Crawley, Peter. A Descriptive Bibliography of the Mormon Church. 3 vols. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1997–2012.

  15. 15

    See 2 Timothy 3:15.