Letter to Vienna Jaques, 4 September 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Sept 4th 1833——
Having a few Leisur moments I sit down to communicate to you a few wordes which I know I am under obligation to improve for to your Satisfaction if it should be a satisfaction for you to receive a few words from your unworthy brother in Christ, I received your Letter some time since containing a history of your Journey and your safe arival for which I bless the Lord I have often felt a whispering since I received your letter like this Joseph thou art indebted to thy God for the offering of thy which proved a Savior of life as pertaining to thy pecunary concern therefor she should not be forgotten of thee for the Lord hath done this and thou shouldst remember her in all thy prayers and also by letter for she oftentimes calleth on the Lord saying O Lord inspire thy Servant Joseph to communicate by letter some word to thine unworthy handmaid canst thou not speak peaciably unto thine handmaid and say all my sins are forgiven and art thou not content with the chastisement wherewith thou hast chastised thy handmaid yea siste[r] this seams to be the whisperings of a spirit and Judge ye what spirit it is I was sensable, when you left that the Lord would chasten you but I pray<​ed​> fervantly in the name of Jesus that you might live to receive your agreeable to the which was given concerning you I am not at all astonished at what has happened to you neithe[r] to what has happened to and I could tell all the why’s & wherefores of all there calamities but alas it is in vain to warn and give precepts for all men are naturally disposed to walk in their own paths as they are pointed out by their own fingers and are not willing to considder and walk in the path which is pointed out by another saying this is the way walk ye in it altho he should be an uner[r]ing director and the Lord his God sent him nevertheless I do not feel disposed to cast any reflections but I feel to cry mightily unto the Lord that all things might work together for good which has happened yea I feel to say O Lord let be comforted let her waste places be built up and established an hundred fold [p. [1]] let thy saints come unto out of every nation let her be exalted to the third heavens and let thy Judgments be sent forth unto victory and after this great tribulation let thy blessings fall upon thy people and let thy handmaid live till her soul shall be satisfied in beholding the glory of Zion notwithstanding her present affliction she shall yet arise and put on her beautiful garments and be the Joy and praise <​glory​> of the whole earth therefore let your heart be comferted live in strict obedience to the of God and walk humble before him and he will exalt thee in his own due time the brethren in this place are gaining ground in spiritual things and are trying to overcome all things that is not well pleasing to their heavenly father we have common there has many brethren mooved to this place from different parts of the country so much so that one house is not sufficient to contain them for public worship and we have divided and hold meetings in two sepperete places namely at the and Uncle s who lives on s place we have commenced building the in this place and are making great progress in it so much so that I feel great hopes that by spring it will be finished so that we can have a place to worship where we shall not be molested a few days since Brothe[r] Ball and Siste[r] arived here <​from​> broth[er] ball has gone about three miles from this place to work at his trade and lives with me at present & Lives with ——
I will assure you that the Lord has respect unto the offering you made he is a God that changes not and and his word cannot fail remember what he has said in the book of mormon respecting those who should assist in bringing this work forth we frequently have inteligenc from our abroad that are proclaming the word that God is working with them for they have attained to great faith insomuch that signs do follow them that believe [p. [2]] Brothe[r] has Just returned from his tour from <​to​> the east and gives us great satisfaction as to his ministry he has raised up a of about Eighty <​three​> members in that part of the country where his friends live in the state of many were healed by through his instrumantality several criples were restored as many as twelve that were afflicted came at at a time from a distanc[e] to be healed he <​and others​> administered in the name of Jesus and they were made whole thus you see that the Laborers in the Lords vineyard are Labouring with their mights while the day lasts knowing the night soon cometh wherein no man can work I wish you to say to that we received his lette[r] of the 13 August directed to requesting an explination on the Plan of the house which is to be built in and also of the City Platt that <​the​> brothern whom we have recently sent to will give them all the information they need about it I have but little time to write at present for I am Labouring on the with my own hands therefor I must bid you farewell and subscribe myself your unworthy brother in christ amen
[Joseph Smith Jr.]
[p. [3]]
Sept 11
Jackson [County]


  1. 1

    In response to an early report of Jaques’s safe arrival, the presidency of the church remarked, “We rejoiced greatly to hear of the safe arival of Sister Viana and brother William [Hobert] and thank our heavenly father that their lives have been spared them till their arival.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 2 July 1833.)  

  2. 2

    See Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:28].  

  3. 3

    Members of the Church of Christ viewed chastisement as a manifestation of divine love that had a salutary, disciplining effect, turning ordinary believers into true disciples. Several months earlier, a revelation expressed this idea: “Verily thus saith the Lord unto you whom I love, and whom I love I also chasten that their sins may be forgiven, for with the chastisement I prepare a way for their deliverance in all things out of temptation and I have loved you.” (Revelation, 1 June 1833 [D&C 95:1]; see also Hebrews 12:5–11.)  

  4. 4

    Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:28–31].  

  5. 5

    In the weeks before this letter was drafted, JS wrote to church leaders in Missouri in a more sympathetic tone. He encouraged them to “be of good cheer” and hoped that his letters would “refresh the hearts and revi[v]e the spir[i]ts” of those afflicted. (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 10 Aug. 1833; Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 18 Aug. 1833.)  

  6. 6

    The “why’s & wherefores of all there calamities” were later explained in a December 1833 revelation: “Behold I say unto you there were jar[r]ings and contentions envyings and strifes and lustful and covetous desires among them Therefore by these things they poluted their inheritances they were slow to hearken unto the voice of the Lord their God Therefore the Lord their God is slow to hearken unto their prayers to answer them in the day of their trouble In the day of their peace they esteemed lightly my council but in the day of their trouble of necessity they feel after me.” (Revelation, 16–17 Dec. 1833 [D&C 101:6–8]; for examples of this behavior during the previous two years, see Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832; Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; and Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 14 Jan. 1833.)  

  7. 7

    See Isaiah 30:21.  

  8. 8

    JS issued a similar warning in a January 1833 letter: “Repent, is the voice of God, to Zion, & yet strange as it may appear, yet it is true mankind will presist in self Justification until all their eniquity is exposed & their character past being redeemed, & that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; see also Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1:13–16].)  

  9. 9

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 453 [3 Nephi 1:12].  

  10. 10

    See Romans 8:28; Revelation, 8 Mar. 1833 [D&C 90:24]; and Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:3]. One month after this letter was written, another revelation similarly stated, “Therefore let your hearts be comforted for all things shall work together for good to them that walk uprightly and to the sactifycation [sanctification] of the church for I will raise up unto myself a pure people that will serve me in righteousness and all that call on the name of the Lord and keep his commandments shall be saved.” (Revelation, 12 Oct. 1833 [D&C 100:15–17].)  

  11. 11

    See Isaiah 51:3.  

  12. 12

    See Isaiah 2:2–3; and Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:69].  

  13. 13

    See 2 Corinthians 12:2.  

  14. 14

    See Matthew 12:20; and Revelation, 6 June 1831 [D&C 52:11].  

  15. 15

    See Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:3–4]. JS referred to this passage in the 1 August 1831 revelation again several months later when attempting to comfort the church leaders in Missouri. He reminded them of “a certain clause in one [revelation] which says that after much tribulation cometh the blessing.” (Letter to Edward Partridge et al., 10 Dec. 1833, underlining in original.)  

  16. 16

    That is, Zion’s present affliction. The phrases “great tribulation” and “present affliction” may have been used to describe the general conditions in Missouri or perhaps were used in response to Jaques’s earlier letter, which may have described the violent encounters she witnessed in Missouri in July. (See Vienna Jaques, Statement, 22 Feb. 1859, CHL.)  

    Jaques, Vienna. Statement, 22 Feb. 1859. CHL. MS 3172.

  17. 17

    See Isaiah 52:1.  

  18. 18

    See Psalm 48:2.  

  19. 19

    See Colossians 2:2.  

  20. 20

    JS later wrote to Edward Partridge, “We know not what we shall be called to pass through before Zion is delivered and established therefore we have great need to live near to God and always be in strict obedience to all his commandments that we may have a concience void of offense towards God and man.” (Letter to Edward Partridge, 5 Dec. 1833.)  

  21. 21

    See 1 Peter 5:6.  

  22. 22

    See Revelation, 9 May 1831 [D&C 50:35].  

  23. 23

    Earlier that summer, the presidency of the high priesthood reported that “the number of disciples in K[irtland] is, about 150.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833.)  

  24. 24

    The schoolhouse on the flats was located in the central part of Kirtland on the road east of Newel K. Whitney’s store and the tannery. It is unclear where John Smith lived. When he moved to Kirtland in May 1833, he wrote in his journal that he “hired a house & moved into it,” but he did not specify the location. Though Joseph Coe had purchased the Peter French farm on behalf of the Church of Christ in April, he apparently did not live on that land. “Brother Coes place” likely refers to his fifty-three-acre property located on lot 6, which was about a half mile northeast from central Kirtland. (“Portion of Kirtland Township, Ohio, 31 December 1833;” John Smith, Journal, 25 May 1833; see also Historical Introduction to Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–A; Geauga Co., OH, Deed Records, 1795–1921, vol. 16, pp. 176–177, 2 May 1832, microfilm 20,236, U.S. and Canada Record Collection, FHL; and illustration of church landholdings in Kirtland.)  

    Smith, John (1781-1854). Journal, 1833–1841. John Smith, Papers, 1833-1854. CHL. MS 1326, box 1, fd. 1.

    U.S. and Canada Record Collection. FHL.

  25. 25

    It actually took two more years beyond the following spring to complete the House of the Lord. Shortly after JS wrote this letter, construction on the House of the Lord in Kirtland, which had continued apace since its commencement in early June 1833, came to a halt. On 10 October 1833, Frederick G. Williams wrote, “We held a council this morning on the subject of building &c. it was decided by the council that we should discontinue the building of the temple for the winter for want of materials and to prepare and get all things ready to recommence it early in the spring.” By the following spring, however, most of the available men instead traveled to Missouri in the Camp of Israel to aid the dispossessed church members in Jackson County. (Frederick G. Williams, Kirtland, OH, to “Dear Brethren,” 10 Oct. 1833, in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 57–58.)  

  26. 26

    “Brothe[r] Ball” may be Joseph Ball from the Boston area. By 1840, Ball was back in Boston, where he began a missionary tour through Massachusetts and Connecticut. Elizabeth Chase was baptized into the Church of Christ in Boston by Samuel Smith on 5 December 1832. (“Communications,” Times and Seasons, 15 Dec. 1840, 2:253–254; Samuel Smith, Diary, 5 Dec. 1832.)  

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

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

  27. 27

    Agnes Coolbrith and Mary Bailey were baptized in Boston after being taught by Samuel Smith and Orson Hyde during the men’s 1832 mission in that area. According to Bailey’s obituary, she left Boston sometime in 1833: “in company with Miss Coolbrith, . . . she bid farewell to friends and connexions, and every thing most dear, and traveled the distance of one thousand miles to Kirtland, Ohio, with no human protector but the one above named, to associate with the saints, in obedience to the commands of God, and the instructions of the inspired Prophets and Apostles.” Lucy Mack Smith’s history notes that in June 1833, “Mary Baily and Agnes colby was then boarding with me they devoted their whole time to making and mending clothes for the brethren who worked on the house There was but one main spring to all our thoughts and that was building the Lords house.” Coolbrith and Bailey later married JS’s brothers Don Carlos Smith and Samuel Smith, respectively. (Samuel Smith, Diary, 26 June and 30 July 1832; Obituary for Mary Bailey Smith, Times and Seasons, 15 Feb. 1841, 2:324–225; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 14, [3].)  

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

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

  28. 28

    See Genesis 4:4–5.  

  29. 29

    See Malachi 3:6; 1 Kings 8:56; and Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:31]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 536, 582 [Mormon 9:9; Moroni 8:18].  

  30. 30

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 31 [1 Nephi 13:37].  

  31. 31

    See Mark 16:17; and Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:64–73]; see also Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.  

  32. 32

    In late March 1833, David Patten and Reynolds Cahoon “were designated to Journey to gethe [together] by the Spirit” to Warsaw, New York. They arrived in Warsaw on 15 April 1833. Patten spent the next several months preaching in the area of Jefferson County, New York, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario bordering Upper Canada. In late May, Patten wrote that he “continued to labor round About in Jefferson Co and now I Preached in the Town of Orleanes and through the Blessing of God I Planted a small Church their to the number of Eighteen members through menny Pirsicution and affictions and All maner of Evil speaking for the name of Jesus Christ and when Divers ware harden I went to Henderson whear I found A more noble People then they of Alexandra for they gladly received the word of the Lord now they of Henderson when I had Preached the first Prinsipals of the Doctrin of Christ Acording to the Holy Order of God there ware Eight that Desired to baptised for the remishion of their sins and acordingly they ware Baptised and wen hands was laid upon them the Holy Ghost came uppon them and they spake With tong[ue]s and Prophesied and I laiboured continuly through the Months of may June July August in the which tim[e] I through the bessing of God I planted some other Branches the amount in all was Eighty members.” (Minutes, 23 Mar. 1833–B; Patten, Journal, May–Aug. 1833, [49]–[51].)  

    Patten, David W. Journal, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 603.

  33. 33

    In his journal, Patten provided details on the gift of healing. He wrote, “Now the Lord did work with me wounderfully in sines and wounders following them that did Believe in the fullness of the gospil of Jesus Christ in somuch that the Deef ware made to Hear the Blin[d] to sea and the lam[e] ware made whole feevers Palsyes croocked limbs and withered limbs and in fine all manner of Deseases was heald common to the Cuntry By the Power of the Lord Jesus Christ that was manifested in His sirvents.” (Patten, Journal, May–Aug. 1833, [51]–[52].)  

    Patten, David W. Journal, 1832–1834. CHL. MS 603.

  34. 34

    See John 9:4.  

  35. 35

    These documents—the plan of the House of the Lord and the plat of the city of Zion—arrived in Missouri on 29 July 1833, two weeks before Partridge wrote his letter. The information that JS promised to deliver here included recently revised versions of both the city plat and the plan for the House of the Lord, which JS apparently felt would answer the questions in Partridge’s letter. Orson Hyde and John Gould left Kirtland around 4 September 1833 and arrived in Jackson County in late September with the documents mentioned here. (See Plan of the House of the Lord, between 1 and 25 June 1833; Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early June–25 June 1833; Letter from John Whitmer, 29 July 1833; Revised Plat of the City of Zion, ca. Early Aug. 1833; Oliver Cowdery, Kirtland, OH, to John Whitmer, Missouri, 1 Jan. 1834, in Cowdery, Letterbook, 14–17; Knight, History, 439; and “History of Orson Hyde,” 12, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861, CHL.)  

    Cowdery, Oliver. Letterbook, 1833–1838. Henry E. Huntington Library, San Marino, CA.

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

    Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.

  36. 36

    TEXT: JS’s signature was cut out of this letter in 1859, when Brigham Young requested a copy of JS’s autograph. (Historian’s Office, Journal, 4 Mar. 1859.)  

    Historian’s Office. Journal, 1844–1997. CHL. CR 100 1.

  37. 37

    TEXT: “2[page cut]”. Possibly “25”. Standard postage rate for a letter of this size traveling the distance between Kirtland and Independence was $0.25. Postmark in unidentified handwriting. (Force, National Calendar, 139.)  

    Force, Peter. The National Calendar for MDCCCXXIX. Vol. VII. Washington DC: By the author, 1829.Force, Peter. The National Calendar for MDCCCXXX. Vol. VIII. Washington DC: By the author, 1830.

  38. 38

    TEXT: Word omitted because of page cut.  

  39. 39

    TEXT: “Missou[page cut]”.