Letter to the Church in Caldwell County, Missouri, 16 December 1838

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Missouri. Dec 16th 1838
To the in and the saints scattered abroad and are persecuted and made desolate and are afflicted in divers manners for christ’s sake and the gospel’s, and whose perils are greatly augmented by the wickedness and corruption of false brethren. May grace, mercy, and peace, be and abide with you and notwithstanding all your sufferings we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare both day and night. We believe that, that God who sees us in this solitary place will hear our prayers & reward you openly. Know assuredly dear brethren that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison. But we say unto you that we consider our condition better, (notwithstanding our suffering) than those who have persecuted us and smitten us and <​borne​> bear false witness against us, and we most assuredly believe that those who bear false witness against us <​do​> seem to have a great triumph over us for the present. But we want you to remember Haman and Mordecai you know that Haman could not be satisfied so long as he saw Mordecai at the king’s gate, and he sought the life of Mordecai and the people of the jews. But the Lord so ordered that Haman was hanged upon his own gallows. So shall it come to pass with poor Haman in the last days. Those who have sought by their unbelief and wickedness and by the principle of mobocracy to destroy us and the people of God by killing and scattering them abroad and wilfully and maliciously delivering us into the hands of murderers desiring us to be put to death thereby having us dragged about in chains and cast into prison, and for what cause; it is because we were honest men and were determined to defend the lives of the saints at the expense of our own. I say unto you that those who have thus vilely treated us like Haman shall be hanged upon their own gallows, or in other words shall fall into their own gin and trap and ditch which they have prepared for us and shall go backward and stumble and fall, and their names shall be blotted out, and God shall reward them according to all their abominations. Dear brethren do not think that our hearts faint as though some strange thing had happened unto us for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors. Therefore God has made our shoulders broad that we can bear it. We glory in our tribulation because we know that God is with us, that he is our friend and that he will save our souls. We do not care for those that kill the body they cannot harm our souls; we ask no favors at the hands of mobs nor of the world, nor of the devil nor of his emissaries the dissenters. We have never dissembled nor will we for the sake of our lives. Forasmuch then as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our mights, minds, and strength [p. [1]] to do the will of God and all things whatsoever he has commanded us. And as to our light speeches from time to time they have nothing to do with the fixed principle of our hearts. Therefore it sufficeth us to say that our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isaiah who considers those who make a man an offender for a word and lay a snare for them that reproveth in the gate. We believe the old prophet verily told the truth. We have no retraction to make, we have reproved in the gate and men have laid snares for us we have spoken words and men have made us offenders, and notwithstanding all this our minds are not darkened but feel strong in the Lord. But behold the words of the savior, if the light which is in you become darkness behold how great is that darkness. Look at the dissenters. And again if you were of the world the world would love its own Look at . A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Look at his brother Look at the beloved brother who aided him in leading us, as the savior was led, into the camp as a lamb prepared for the slaughter and a sheep dumb before his shearer so we opened not our mouth But these men like Balaam being greedy for a reward sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own. I would remember who comes up before us as one of Job’s comforters. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job, but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a prophet has no other dumb ass to ride but to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel, and this ass not being of the same kind of Balaams therefore the angel notwithstanding appeared unto him yet he could not penetrate his understanding sufficiently so but what he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor ass whoever lives to see it will see him and his rider perish like those who perished in the gainsaying of Core, or after the same condemnation. Now as for these and the rest of their company we will not presume to say that the world loves them but we presume to say that they love the world and we classify them in the error Balaam and in the gainsaying of Core and with the company of Cora [Korah] and Dathan and Abiram. Perhaps our brethren may say because we thus write that we are offended at those characters, if we are, it is not for a word neither because they reproved in the gate. But because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood. Are they not murderers then at heart? Are not their consciences seared as with a hot iron? We confess that we are offended [p. 2] but the saviour said that offences must come but woe unto them by whom they come, and again blessed are ye when all men shall revile you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Now dear brethren if any men ever had reason to claim this promise we are the men, for we know that the world not only hates us but but speak all manner of evil of us falsely for no other reason than because we have been endeavoring to teach the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ after we were bartered away by and were taken into the militia camp we had all the evidence we could have wished for that the world hated us and that most cordially too. If there were priests of all the different sects they hated us, if there were Generals they hated us, if there were Colonels they hated us, and the soldiers and officers of every kind hated us, and the most profane blasphemers and drunkards & whoremongers hated us, they all hated us most cordially. And now what did they hate us for, purely because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was it because we were liars? We know that it has been reported by some but it has been reported falsely Was it because we have committed treason against the government in or of burglary, or of larceny or arson, or any other unlawful act in . We know that certain priests and certain lawyers and certain judges who are the instigators aiders and abettors of a certain gang of murderers and robbers who have been carrying on a scheme of mobocracy to uphold their priestcraft against the saints of the last days for a number of years and have tried by a well contemplated and premeditated scheme to put down by physical power a system of relig[i]on that all the world by all their mutual attainments and by any fair means whatever were not able to resist. Hence, mobbers were encouraged by priests and Levites, by the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenees, and the Herodians, and the most ruthless, abandoned, and debauched, lawless inhuman and the most beastly set of men that the earth can boast of; and indeed a parallel cannot be found any where else; to gather together to steal to plunder to starve and to exterminate and burn the houses of the Mormons these are the characters that by their treasonable and avert acts have desolated and laid waste these are the characters that would fain make all the world believe that we are guilty of the above named acts. But they represent us [p. 3] falsely; we say unto you that we have not committed treason, nor any other unlawful act in was it for murder in against mob-militia who was a wolf in the first instance hide and Hair, teeth, and legs, and tail, who afterwards put on a militia sheepskin with the wool on, who can sally forth in the day time into the flock and snarl & show his teeth, and scatter and devour the flock and satiate himself upon his prey, and then sneak back into the brambles in order that he might conceal himself in his well tried skin with the wool on. We are well aware that there is a certain set of priests & satellites and mobbers that would fain make all the world believe that we are the dogs that barked at this howling wolf that made such havoc among the sheep who when he retreated howled and bleated at such a desperate rate that if one could have been there he would have thought that all the wolves whether wrapped up in sheep skins or goat skins or any other skins and in fine all the beast of the forest were awfully alarmed and catching the scent of innocent blood they sallied forth with a tremenduous howl and crying of all sorts and such a howling and such a tremenduous havoc never was known such a piece of inhumanity and relentless cruelty and barbarity cannot be found in all the annals of history. These are the characters that would make the world believe that we had committed murder by making an attack upon this howling wolf while we were at home and in our beds and asleep and knew nothing of that transaction any more than we know what is going on in China while we are within these walls. Therefore we say again unto you we are innocent of these things they have represented us falsely Was it for committing adultery, we are aware that false slander has gone abroad for it has been reiterated in our <​ears​>. These are falsehoods also. Renegadoes, mormon dissenters are running through the world and spreading various foul and libelous reports against us thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world because they know that we are not of the world and that the world hates us; therefore they make a tool of these fellows by them they do all the injury they can and after that they hate them worse than they do us because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants. God Such characters God hates we cannot love them the world hates them and we sometimes think the devil ought to be ashamed of them. We have heard that it has been reported by some that some of us should have said that we not only dedicated our property but our families also to the Lord, and satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into lasciviousness such as a community of wives [p. 4] which is an abomination in the sight of God. When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy for this is the law of God it is not for the purpose of the rich those who have no need and when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children he does not give them to his brother or to his neighbor for there is no such law for the law of God is thou shalt not commit adultery thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife. He that looketh upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already in his heart. Now for a man to consecrate his property and his wife & children to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and the fatherless, the sick, and the afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this he and all his house must be virtuous and shun every appearance of evil. Now if any person has represented any thing other wise than what we now write he or she is a liar and have represented us falsely. And this is another manner of of evil which is spoken against us falsely. We have learned also since we have been in prison that many false and pernicious things which were calculated to lead the saints far astray and to do great injury <​have been taught by ​> as coming from the taught by Dr Avard and we have reason to fear <​that​> many <​other things​> designing and corrupt characters like unto himself <​have been teaching many things​> which the presidency never knew of being taught in the by any body untill after they were made prisoners, which if they had known of, they would have spurned them and their authors from them as they would the gates of hell. Thus we find that there has been frauds and secret abominations and evil works of darkness going on leading the minds of the weak and unwary into confusion and distraction, and palming it all the time upon the presidency while mean time the presidency were ignorant as well as innocent of these things, which were practicing in the church in their name and were attending to their own family concerns, weighed down with sorrow, in debt, in poverty, in hunger assaying to be fed yet finding themselves receiving deeds of charity but inadequate to their subsistence, and because they received those deeds they were envied and hated by those who professed to be their friends But notwithstanding we thus speak we honor the church when we speak of the church, as a church, for their liberality, kindness, patience, and long suffering, and their continued kindness towards us. And now brethren we say unto you, what can we enumerate more; is not all manner of evil of every description spoken against us falsely, yea, we say unto [p. 5] unto you falsely; we have been misrepresented and misunderstood and belied and the purity of our hearts have not been known. And it is through ignorance, yea, the very depth of ignorance is the cause of it, and not only ignorance but gross wickedness on the part of some and hypocrisy also who by a long face and sanctified prayers and very pious sermons had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the devil gained great advantage & would bring great sorrow upon our heads and in fine we have waded through an ocean of tribulation, and mean abuse practiced upon us by the ill bred and ignorant such as , , and , , , , and various others who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery and cannot cease from sin. Such characters as , , , , , who are too mean to mention and we had liked to have forgotten them. & whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to hold them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of God and become again entangled and overcome the latter end is worse than the first. But it has happened unto them according to the words of the savior, the dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Again if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking <​for​> of judgement and fiery indignation to come which shall devour these adversaries. For he who despiseth Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses of how much more severe punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath sold his brother and denied the by which he was sanctified calling it an unholy thing and doing despite to the spirit of grace. And again we say unto you that inasmuch as there be virtue in us and the holy hath been conferred upon us, and the of the kingdom hath not been taken from us, for verily thus saith the Lord be of good cheer for the keys that I gave unto <​you​> are yet with you Therefore we say unto you dear brethren in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver these characters unto the buffetings of satan untill the day of redemption that they may be dealt with according to their works [p. 6] and from henceforth their works shall be made manifest. And now dear and well beloved brethren and when we say brethren we mean those who have continued faithful in christ men, women, and children, we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus, to be strong in the faith of the new and everlasting covenant, and nothing frightened at your enemies. For what has happened unto us is an evident token to them of damnation but unto us of salvation and that of God. Therefore hold on even unto death, for he that seeks to save his life shall loose lose it but he that loseth his life for my sake and the gospels shall find it sayeth Jesus Christ. Brethren from henceforth let truth and righteousness prevail and abound in you and in all things be temperate, abstain from every appearance of evil, drunkenness, and profane language, and from every thing which is unrighteous or unholy; also from enmity, and hatred, and covetousness and from every unholy desires. Be honest one with another, for it seemeth that some have come short of these things, and some have been uncharitable & have manifested greediness because of their debts towards those who have been persecuted & dragged about with chains without cause and imprisoned. Such persons God hates and they shall have their turn of sorrow in the rolling of the great wheel for it rolleth and none can hinder. shall yet live though she seemeth to be dead. Remember that whatsoever measure you meet out to others it shall be measured to you again. We say unto you brethren be not afraid of your adversaries contend earnestly against mobs, and the unlawful works of dissenters and of darkness. And the very God of peace shall be with you and make a way for your escape from the adversary of your souls we commend you to God and the word of his grace which is able to make us wise unto salvation. Amen.
Joseph Smith Jun. [p. 7]