Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 1/Number 1
|LATTER DAY SAINTS'|
|MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE|
|Volume I. No. 1.]||KIRTLAND, OHIO, OCTOBER, 1834.||[Whole No. 1.|
As this No. commences the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, it is necessary for us to make a few remarks, and also inform our friends of the course which will be pursued in its Editorial department.
The closing Vol. of the Star, or the ten last numbers were published at this place; and for the matter which they contain, or at least, the Editorial, we are responsible. If the principles are pure, the man who embraces them may be guided in the way of righteousness; but if not, and we have not warned our fellow men of the things of the kingdom of God, or have cried peace and safety, when destruction was near, then, at the great day of retribution, before an impartial Judge, we must answer for the blood of souls! Of these things, no man is more sensible than ourselves. But the reflection is otherwise. To be sure, our opponants [opponents] have cried an alarm, and used every exertion to hinder the spread of truth; but truth has continued its steady course, and the work of the Lord has rolled on; and where darkness once held unbounded sway, and corruption prevailed undisturbed, the fruit of righteousness has sprung up and the children of men been made to rejoice with a joy unspeakable.
That this may continue to be the case we shall continue our exertions. We are aware that the work has just commenced: four years have been insufficient to warn all nations: this, in an ancient day was a work of many years. And though the word has been preached to thousands, and many obeyed, yet many millions are yet in ignorance; yes, many in darkness. The only marvel is, that God should have mercy on a corrupt generation, and condescend to bring light and truth to light for their salvation. It is no marvel that men should reject it: this was always the case, because their deeds were evil.
Men labor for different objects, with a view to accomplish different purposes—some ambition, some pride, some money, and some power—but the few to save men. Only the few then have we had cause to expect, would show themselves friendly to the truth: only the few labor for that reward which is to be brought at the revelation of Jesus Christ; and of course, from them only could we expect countenance in the arduous undertaking to instruct men in those things which are to concern them hereafter!
In matters of controversy, as we said in the first No. of the Star published in this place, we say now. The saints anciently were exhorted to contend earnestly for that faith once delivered to those before them; but nothing is there said of controversy. It may be doubted by some, whether controversy upon any principle is correct, or ever resulted in good: be this as it may; but above all things, if men must contend upon religious matters, the greatest decorum and propriety ought to be observed! A heated zeal without knowledge may hurl thousands into a vortex irretrievable, and lay a foundation for future generations, the end of which may bring destruction and death!
With these reflections, then, we cannot but deem it unsafe for men to enter the field of controversy against their opponants [opponents] in principle, except they are assured of the correctness of their own system: this would be dangerous; and to avoid the evil arising from such an order of things, we shall not attempt
to correct others upon the principles of salvation, not knowing firstly that our foundation is sure.
That our principles may be fully known we here state them briefly:
We believe in God, and his Son Jesus Christ. We believe that God, from the beginning, revealed himself to man; and that whenever he has had a people on earth, he always has revealed himself to them by the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels, or his own voice. We do not believe that he ever had a church on earth without revealing himself to that church: consequently, there were apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, in the same.—We believe that God is the same in all ages; and that it requires the same holiness, purity, and religion, to save a man now, as it did anciently; and that as HE is no respecter of persons, always has, and always will reveal himself to men when they call upon him.
We believe that God has revealed himself to men in this age, and commenced to raise up a church preparatory to his second advent, when he will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
We believe that the popular religious theories of the day are incorrect; that they are without parallel in the revelations of God, as sanctioned by him; and that however faithfully they may be adhered to, or however zealously and warmly they may be defended, they will never stand the strict scrutiny of the word of life.
We believe that all men are born free and equal; that no man, combination of men, or government of men, have power or authority to compel or force others to embrace any system of religion, or religious creed, or to use force or violence to prevent others from enjoying their own opinions, or practicing the same, so long as they do not molest or disturb others in theirs, in a manner to deprive them of their privileges as free citizens—or of worshiping [worshipping] God as they choose, and that any attempt to the contrary is an assumption unwarrantable in the revelations of heaven, and strikes at the root of civil liberty, and is a subvertion [subversion] of all equitable principles between man and man.
We believe that God has set his hand the second time to recover the remnant of his people, Israel; and that the time is near when he will bring them from the four winds, with songs of everlasting joy, and reinstate them upon their own lands which he gave their fathers by covenant.
And further: We believe in embracing good wherever it may be found; of proving all things, and holding fast that which is righteous.
This, in short, is our belief, and we stand ready to defend it upon its own foundation when ever it is assailed by men of character and respectability.—And while we act upon these broad principles, we trust in God that we shall never be confounded!
Neither shall we wait for opposition; but with a firm reliance upon the justice of such a course, and the propriety of disseminating a knowledge of the same, we shall endeavor to persuade men to turn from error and vain speculation; investigate the plan which heaven has devised for our salvation; prepare for the year of recompense, and the day of vengeance which are near, and thereby be ready to meet the Bridegroom!
Kirtland, Ohio, October, 1834.
Spain.—It is said that Spain contains eleven millions of inhabitants—on an average, 27 to a square mile. And when it is recollected that a considerable part of the kingdom is rendered incapable of cultivation in consequence of its lofty mountains, it must be certain that the population is quite dense. It is also said that there are 28,249 houses appropriated to religious purposes; the number of clergy 159,322, and that of friars and nuns, 96,878. "The whole amount of ecclesiastical revenue is calculated to be fifty millions of dollars, and the portion of this sum actually received by them, is greater than the whole civil revenue of the kingdom, by about eight millions!"—if our information be correct.
If money and priests were sufficient to convert a people, one would suppose that the Spaniards lacked nothing to render their conversion certain, as 28,249 houses of ordinary size would be sufficient to entertain the whole kingdom at once; and 159,322 clergy, would give over five to a congregation. Taking this into consideration, with the religious tax annually paid, of fifty millions, one might ask, "What lack they yet?"
But Spain is still Spain—racked with disorder and boiling over with contention; the din of civil war stun[n]ing the ears of all, while blood flows in the same channel of the blood of brother, to gratify ambition and folly.—Neither does the matter of astonishment end here—with her 28,249 houses for public worship, and her 159,322 clergy, professors of the same faith, and members of the same "Catholic" church, are, with weapons of death striving for the same earthly kingdom.
We do not despise the principles of civil nor religious liberty, nor question the propriety of maintaining them, even by force—for these are dear to all; but we do question the righteousness and union of that people, who, by their creeds profess to be ONE; to be built upon the sure foundation, and to be guided by the "holy apostolic faith," delivered to the world by inspired men, and then array against each other in hostile armies!
Her trouble does not end here—The Destroyer—that great scourge sent forth to vex the nations, and lay waste kingdoms—has summoned thousands of her citizens to appear before another tribunal!
Query.—Is she not now drinking of that bitter cup which she has so liberally measured to so many of her citizens, in her great zeal to extinguish heresy!— Editor.
Pontiac, M. T. Oct. 20, 1834.
Left Kirtland on the 16th in company with our brethren J. Smith jr. D. Whitmer, H. Smith, F. G. Williams, R. and A. Orton. At 9 in the evening we took passage on board the Steam Boat Monroe, (Whitaker Master,) at Fairport.
While waiting for the arrival of a Boat from the east, the "Daniel Webster" came down from Detroit, and touched at the outer end of the Pier to land and receive passengers. This I suppose was sufficient to answer her advertisement—"To touch at the intermediate ports" between the former place and Buffalo. On enquiry, I was informed, that a previous misunderstanding between the citizens and crew of the Boat prevented her touching at the regular wharf. Whether this was correct or incorrect I am unable to say; but in the apparent hurry to leave the harbor she took a quantity of baggage and put out before giving time for the passengers to arrive. So much for the accommodation of men employed to manage Steam Boats upon our Lake—This was the "Daniel Webster!" After being hailed several times she put back and shipped her passengers, which seemed to amend, in a degree, the feeling which otherwise must evidently have arisen in the mind of every beholder.
Fairport is an excellent harbor, and affords a safe moorage for shipping.—Government has expended a considerable amount in extending its Piers several rods into the Lake, at the end of which a small Light House is now being finished to render the ingress of vessels more easy during the dark gales to which this Lake is subject. The main Light House is situated on a commanding eminence, and is some 60 or 70 feet from its base to its summit.
Richmond is situated up the river from Fairport about one and a half miles. These two towns are destined to become places of considerable business. Fairport probably takes the lead in forwarding, but Richmond is fast on the increase, and has several extensive stores which afford most kinds of merchandise consumed in the country, very cheap. Farmers generally find a certain market for their produce, and a large extent of country south receive their eastern merchandise at the two places.
Our progress from Grand River to Cleveland was slow, having a strong head wind, which blew, at times, almost a gale. At Cleveland we made a short stop, leaving several passengers, baggage, and merchandise.
Cleveland is a pleasantly situated town at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and is improving. The Canal from the south has increased its trade, and it now affords a market. The harbor is good, and was built at considerable expense.
There is an increase of population, and many foreigners of late, have taken residence in the town and vicinity—Swiss, and German. These, generally, are circumspect, peaceable, and industrious.
We left the harbor in the night, and were compelled to face a heavy wind till we arrived at Huron, mouth of Huron River. This is a small place, and, if I am not mistaken the harbor is not the best. At half past one P. M. we left the harbor and passed more swiftly, the wind having changed.—With canvass we soon passed the mouth of Sandusky Bay, (3 o'clock,) and before the Sun had set we passed between those islands which have been so often mentioned in the history of our last War with England, which reverberated with the sound of Cannon on the memorable 10th of September, 1813, when Com. Perry captured the British fleet.
At an expense of 300 killed and wounded, Perry's name is rendered great on the pages of our history.—
However dishonorable in the minds of some it may be for men to array against their fellow—men in a hostile position, I cannot stop to remove, but one thing is certain, he was acting in obedience to the requirements of his country, as well as his antagonist, (Com. Barkly,) and a regard for each ought to have stimulated them to act with the most judgment possible. These shores have been saluted with the sound of the instruments of death, and those beautiful waters have been stained with the blood of men! When, it may be asked, will nations cease to learn war, & when will men cultivate those feelings of love which the gospel of our Lord requires?
While passing this evening toward Monroe, at the mouth of the river Raisin, we held a conversation with a man calling himself Ellmer, on the subject of religion. When any thing was mentioned of the doctrine or belief of the Latter Day Saints, we could not but remark the similarity of spirit, and the uniformity of sentiment apparent in the actions and arguments of this man, with others alike ignorant. He said that he was personally acquainted with Joe Smith; had heard him preach his lies, and now, since he was dead, he was glad! In fact, he seemingly expressed more joy in this belief than any thing else which he advanced during the conversation. He said that he had heard Joe Smith preach in Bainbridge Chenango co. N. Y. five years since; he knew it to be him; that he was a dark complexioned man, &c. I was as particular to enquire [inquire] his appearance, size, age, &c. as decency would admit, and found that the man was guilty of falsehood. This accounted for the warmth of his assertions when he pronounced the name "Joe Smith," and I conclude that he learned it from the popular priests of the day, who, thro' fear that their craft will be injured if their systems are compared with the truth, seek to ridicule those who teach it.
Now, that he lied, I have no hesitancy in saying, as our brother Joseph Smith Jr. had not commenced to preach five years since, neither has he ever preached in Bainbridge; and, as to the correctness of his description of his complexion I leave all who are acquainted with his person, to judge. But his bluster, (for he made no little noise,) excited the curiosity of many who crowded round, eager to ascertain the cause of this "war of words." After making several assertions, and many flourishes, he gave opportunity for an answer.—He said that the Savior had not been seen since his ascension, and that any man contradicting this was a deceiver.
After obtaining liberty to speak, we informed the gentleman that, to commence, we would correct one assertion just advanced, which was, that "Christ had not appeared to any man or men since his ascension into heaven, after his resurrection." The company listened intensely, and we proceeded:—
In John's testimony we read that after Peter and John, early in the morning, had left Mary at the sepulcher, she stood without, weeping, and after she had conversed with the angels, turned round and saw Jesus standing by; that when she knew that it was the Lord, she was forbidden to touch him: "For I am not yet ascended to my Father," were his words. See John, 20:17.
The same day at evening, the Lord appeared to certain of his disciples, the doors being shut, and showed them his hands and his side; but Thomas not being present, refused to believe.—Eight days after, when they were assembled, he appeared again, and called upon Thomas to put his finger into the prints of the nails, and his hand into his side. See John, 20:26 & 27.
From these two items it is evident that Jesus was seen after his ascension, because he could not be touched on the morning of his resurrection, and eight days after called upon one of his disci-ples to put his hand into his side.—And his word to Mary to say to his brethren, that he was about to ascend to his Father and their Father, his God and their God; and that he could not be touched until this was accomplished, the following account shows plainly that he had, eight days after, entered those mansions of glory where perfection dwells.
Upon this item, then, we rest the fact,—that he had ascended! because in the morning he could not be touched, (for this reason,) and eight days after, said to one, "Reach hither thy finger and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side"! and in another place it is said, that soon after his resurrection, as the disciples were assembled, Jesus stood in their midst, and they were "terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit;" but were assured that it was the Lord, having a privilege of seeing and feeling—and pass to certain items to show that it was no secret with the saints that he was seen after his ascension. See Luke, 24:39 & 40.
Luke also says, when writing the Acts of the apostles, that Christ showed himself alive by many infallible proofs, after his resurrection, "being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Peter, while preaching to the house of Cornelius, says that God did raise him "up the third day, and showed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead." If this is not sufficient, remembering that he could not be touched till he ascended, we will notice a few sayings of Paul, and leave our friends to judge for themselves.
In the 15th chapter of his first epistle to the Corinthians, while speaking of the resurrection of the Lord, he says, "that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time."
Now we will recollect, that after his resurrection he was seen of the disciples "forty days;" and then was seen to ascend up into heaven, and also, the angels said that he had gone to that place. We will recollect also that after this ascension the whole number of the disciples was only one hundred and twenty, and that Paul says, that he appeared to above five hundred at once, and of course, it must have been after this ascension here spoken of by Luke. After that he was seen of James; then of ALL the apostles. Paul does not end his testimony here: Stephen was certainly stoned before his (Paul's) convertion [conversion], and his last words were, that he saw the Son of Man on the right hand of God, and Paul says afterward, that he (Christ) appeared unto him.
After ending these few remarks upon this item, we were prevented from making any further, as our friend Ellmer had grown quite uneasy, and also said that they were not to be found in the scriptures. He was informed, however, that if he would wait till I could go to my trunk he should have a privilege of seeing for himself, as those passages could be found in a few moments, to which I had referred. He said that he wanted nothing of my Mormon bible; that he did not believe in it, neither would he hear it.
He was informed that it was the English version of the bible, containing the Old and New Testaments, translated by order of James I, between the years 1607 and '10. As he refused to hear our bible, he was told if he would produce one on board the Boat, I would produce those items previously named—but he refused. A gentleman present (a methodist preacher by profession) said, that any man acquainted with his bible would be ready to admit the correctness of what had been quoted.—The poor man soon found that the company discovered his ignorance, and also his anger, as he soon turned from us with a loud boast and an important swell, as another methodist priest from England had done a short time previous, after being shown the weakness of his own argument by our brother H. Smith.
How far this conversation was, or will be productive of good, I am unable to say; but by that means numbers heard, and no doubt, felt an increased anxiety to learn something further relative to this "strange work." One in-dividual purchased a book of Mormon, notwithstanding Mr. Ellmer's bitter cry of "Joe Smith," and "false prophets;" and will thus have a privilege of hearing the truth, though he may be separated far from those who have authority to administer the ordinances of the everlasting gospel. May heaven inspire his heart to seek diligently until he obtains a certain knowledge of the kingdom of our God in these last days!
Contention was soon hushed to silence, some assembling in little groups and conversing upon the common occurrences of the day, and others were pacing silently up and down upon the deck, as we were propelled at a rapid rate by wind and steam, while the moon, with the same majesty and beauty with which it had been adorned near six thousand years, arose as from a watery bed, to light the path of the weary traveller.
The little town of Monroe is said to be three miles from the mouth of the Raisin; but the Boat touched at a pier or dock erected several rods from the main land, and the passengers were taken from this in small boats to the shore. Several Irish and German emigrants landed at this place, with considerable heavy baggage. Some few emigrants from the state of N. Y. also landed at this point; and from appearance one would judge this to be a convenient place for those wishing to settle in the south part of the Territory, to land.
We passed up the River in the night & arrived at Detroit at 4 o'clock on the morning of the 8th. It is due Capt. Whitaker that we should here remark, that with his present accommodations, & civil & agreeable hands, he cannot fail of giving that satisfaction to every passenger which will ensure their return to his Boat, if circumstances admit.—In fact, every civil man cannot but be pleased with the happy and agreeable difference between the regulations of Boats on these waters and our southern waters. In the South one will see gamblers employed from the deck to the cabin, and each group furnished with their bottle; but on board the Monroe, I have it in my power to say, was not the case. Is it that the morals of the North are so far in advance of the South? or is it that popular prejudice has stamped this vile practice with disapprobation? Be this as it may, I am certain, that the traveller [traveler] will pass his time far more agreeable where such is the regulation, than in the midst of the cards, bottles, dirks, and pistols of the South.
Detroit is a small town on the West bank of the River of the same name; is pleasantly situated, and is improving; and while the emigration continues to the middle part of the Territory, must continue. It is to be remembered that this little place has been a point of considerable military struggle, as it held the keys of protection for a large portion of our North—western frontier.—Our war with England to be sure, has passed over; but the conduct of Gov. Hull, in surrendering this post, on the 16th of August, 1812, has placed a stain upon his history, in the mind of every American, which will not be erased; and it is to be doubted, whether those who "bought him" will now justify his conduct!
After the battle of the 10th of Sept. 1813, it fell into the hands of our Government, and was re—taken by Gen. Harrison on the 29 of the same month.
It has been severely scourged this season with Cholera; and it is said that some hundreds have fallen victims to this disease. We were informed that it contains at the present, no more than 4000 inhabitants. This may be called a slow increase for two centuries; but when it is remembered that it is yet on our frontier, and that little, or no business was done here, till late, except a small traf[f]ic with the natives; & that its first inhabitants were French, it is not a matter of much astonishment. Boats and other craft generally touch at this place, on their passage to and from the upper Lakes.
A stage runs daily from Detroit to this place, though the mail but once a week. At 8 A. M. we took passage. The face of the country for several miles is low and wet, and the timber not the largest; and were one to judge as in other places, he would be led to conclude it an unhealthy part of our land.
As you pass farther, the ground is more elevated, though by no means high.
The timber on the up land is principally oak, while the low ground and marshes afford a few small Pine with a mixture of other timber. I am informed, that larger Pine is quite abundant a distance from this.
Judging from the size of the timber and the appearance of the soil, a stranger will not consider this part of the Territory to be superior, by no means, to many parts of New York and Ohio.—I am not disposed to judge the whole Territory from the small part that I have seen, because I am informed by credible men, that it affords far better; but were one to do this, he would be left to wonder why people leave the more fertile and mild parts of Ohio, for a situation here.
Yet this country is not without its peculiarities—It abounds with Lakes covering from one to 1000 acres, which are literally filled with excellent fish. The water in these Lakes is remarkably transparent. In addition to these, the rivers emptying into the large Lakes abound with White—fish of a superior quality, and many with Salmon—trout.
Considering the newness of the country, the improved land is estimated at a gr[e]ater value than would, at first, be supposed—farms of 100 acres being held at, from $800 to $1000.
Notwithstanding the diseases; (for withal it must be quite unhealthy to foreigners;) it is improving, and fast being settled; and the next session of our Congress will probably grant it a privilege of being recorded upon the annals of history, a "Free, Sovereign, and Independant [Independent] State." And with the fostering care of Divine Providence, a few years might drain many of its swamps, and convert its wilderness into fruitful fields, and these haunts of wild beasts and "red men" into the abodes of civilization and peace.
BROTHER O COWDERY,
In conformity to a request published in the Star, to the elders of the church of the Latter Day Saints, to communicate to you some of the more important items contained in their journals, I take the privilege of sending you an abridgment of my last tour; and though it contains nothing very interesting, yet, if you please, you are at liberty to insert it in the Star.
May, the 7th, I left Kirtland for Upper Canada. On my way I called on the church at Villinovia, N. Y. preached a few times, baptized three persons, and heard several others confess they were convinced of the truth of the new and everlasting covenant. The season being truly gloomy, and the snow falling on the 14th about 10 inches, rendered the weather distressing to both man and beast.
After a tedious journey I arrived at brother Nickerson's, Mount Pleasant, U. Canada, on the 19th of the same month, where I was received with expressions of joy by all the brethren, who were truly desirous to be instructed more perfectly in the word of the Lord. I labored in this region about two months with a good degree of satisfaction—many believed the word and some turned unto the Lord; while others were prevented by unbelieving friends; and many were stumbling at the vile calumnies that satan and his children were heaping upon the innocent, to stop the work of the Lord. But his name be praised! his word is sown in Canada; it has taken root in good ground, and it will grow in spite of all the priests of satan; for although they have made a league with death and hell, and are bound with strong cords, their house shall fall: it is divided, and it cannot stand!
I will give you a little specimen to prove the last assertion: As I was going to my appointment one day, I was informed that it was on conditions.—When I came before the people I inquired for the "conditions," when I was introduced to Mr. McDorman, a Baptist elder, who said, the people wished to hear my faith and principles; but said he did not want to hear for the sake of contention—only for information. I informed him that he should be gratified; for I was always blessed when preaching the principles of the gospel of Christ. I then proceeded, and showed the gospel as it was in the beginning: also in the days of the apostles, and in the present day: being careful to compare the Jews' religion with the apostles', and also the religion of the many sects of this day with the Corinthian and Ephesian churches; and then giving them the testimony of the New and Everlasting Covenant, as established in these last days: being cofirmed [confirmed] by many infallible proofs, both human and divine—the Lord himself speaking from the heavens unto men who were now living!
When I had concluded I called on Mr. McDorman to make such remarks as he wished. He said there was not time, but when brother Nickerson had spoken some ten or fifteen minutes, and had dismissed the people, he desired them to take their seats, and then told them that he did not want to controvert, now; but if they would come there on a week from the next Sabbath, he would prove to them, with infallible testimony, that the church of Christ had existed on the earth, with all its gifts and graces, ever since the days of the apostles—also that the faith of the prophets was a very different faith from that of the apostles; and there were to be no more prophets nor revelators until the coming of our Lord!
But, as it happened, there was another man of the same fraternity (Baptist elder) present, who also said, that he felt it to be his duty to bear testimony against such false doctrines as we had been hearing, about the kingdom of Christ being set up on the earth in the last days. "Why!" said he, "the kingdom of Christ has not been on the earth since the apostles! if it is so, let them raise the dead, and then we will believe on them!"
Here we see a picture of this, or the kingdom of this generation. Two brethren of the same church; yea, teachers, assuming the dignity of elders, rise with a zeal heated to that degree, to oppose the opinion of another man, that one said kingdom of God had existed on the earth, with all its gifts and graces, ever since the apostles, and the other said that it had not existed on earth since that time! Mr. McDorman said the kingdom of God did exist on the earth, with all its gifts and graces, but there were neither prophets nor revelators, neither would there be till the coming of Christ! I am assured that such things as those will open the eyes of the public to see the true light: which may the Lord grant.
I labored in Canada about two months, and preached the gospel to many hundreds of souls whom I must meet at the bar of God when the secrets of all hearts are revealed; where those who now believe and have faith to become the sons of God, will receive an immortal crown. I baptized two persons at Mount Pleasant, which increased the church in that place to 43. The country is pleasantly situated; the soil fertile, and the people very hospitable to strangers. May the Lord have mercy upon them.
Yours in the bonds of the New Covenant.
JOHN P. GREENE.
Freedom, N. Y. Oct. 20, 1834.
DEAR BROTHER OLIVER,
I am aware that all communications that pass between us, ought to be characterized with the deepest piety and the most ardent zeal for God and his cause: of this, you also must be sensible for two reasons. 1st, God is pure and holy and requires all his children to be pure and holy too. 2nd, it becomes necessary from the fact, that our letters frequently meet the public eye, and just so far as we regard the truth and its divine and heavenly influence, we shall strive so to frame every sentence, as to have it bear the strictest scrutiny, and the most rigid comparison with the scriptures of truth. I do not feel capable of enlightening the public mind with my pen, therefore I write with less caution than I should, did I suppose every sentence was to come before the world for criticism. When I address you, I bring you before the eye of mind, and my pen puts to the paper, the matter that the organs of speech would convey to your understanding were I to converse with you orally.
My mind has latterly turned upon the necessity of living pure and holy before God, and bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ Jesus, our Lord. A few reflections on this subject will lead us to enquire what is necessary that we may live pure and holy, or as the apostle expresses it, without blame before him in love. The first requisite that now strikes my mind with any force, is, the same mind should be in us that was in Christ Jesus. The same principles which actuated him, should influence us. If he were holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners, so should we be. If when he was reviled, he reviled not again, neither should we. If when he was smitten, afflicted and crucified, he prayed for his murderers, so should we. If when he was rich and possessed all things, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich, so should we take joyfully the spoiling of our goods, if the sacrifice become necessary, for the furtherance of his cause, for the reason before adduced, "the same mind should be in us that was in Christ Jesus." His examples should be imitated and his commands be obeyed, unless it can be made to appear that he has given unimportant ones. If such can be found, I pledge myself to show you words without sense, and sounds without signification.—Though we are surrounded by a wicked and perverse generation, we should refrain from every thing that is not sanctioned by the word of God, or emanates from that pure principle of holiness that actuated our divine Master. That principle which actuates the children of men to revile, ridicule, calumniate and destroy the peace of one another, be-cause they take the liberty to think for themselves in matters of religion, is certainly from beneath, and not from above, I care not how much christian zeal such may pretend to have: I hesitate not to say, and I feel warranted from the scriptures of truth, that their religion is vain and their faith is also vain. They are of their father, the devil, and his works they will do; and unless they repent, they must inevitably perish in some of the calamities that shall be poured out upon the ungodly.—It is vain in us to pretend to the religion of Jesus Christ, and his apostles, unless we have the same spirit that was in them. It is worse than in vain—it is worse than common plunder, it is sacrilege to claim the promises addressed to his ancient worthies, unless we have, at least, the same spirit, the same mind, and a degree of the like precious faith. God never annexed a cheering promise to any but his truly faithful followers. He has commanded all, not only to believe on him, but to love and serve him. He has also kindly added the true test by which we shall know them that love him; "Whoso doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" says John. It is certainly evident that if the same mind was in us that was in our divine Master, we should do good unto all as we had opportunity.—We should not render evil for evil, nor reviling for reviling, to any man.
Before we undertake to convert the world to our faith, we ought carefully to examine and see if our faith is of divine origin: if so, it will be productive of good works: if not, we had better desist, lest it be said of us as said the Savior to a certain sect in his time: "Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when ye have made him, he is two—fold more the child of hell than yourselves."—Where, dear brother, was the folly of the self—righteous Pharisee more fully exemplified than in the conduct of the majority of the professed christian world at the present day? When they are requested to listen to truth which they can neither gainsay nor resist, they turn from it in a fit of anger or contempt. The one general language of such conduct, is "Lord, I thank thee that I am not as other men," &c. Ask them to prove your system untrue, and they will readily salute your ears with the familiar expression of false prophets and false teachers, without adducing even a shadow of proof to convince you of your error. Ask them if they expect to bask in the sunshine of endless beatitude beyond this vale of tears? the answer is, I hope I shall. Ask for the evidences, and they are ready to quote some of the best promises of the immutable Jehovah, addressed to those who possessed the spirit, the mind and the like precious faith with the most favored followers of the meek and lowly Savior.
Brother, I have thought it an easy thing to discern between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. There are such as say they love God, but in works they deny him, being proud, boasters, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. They speak evil of the things which they know not, substituting their own traditions, or the creeds of men, for the pure word of the Most High.
Yours in the best of bonds.
W. A. COWDERY.
To OLIVER COWDERY.
Huntington, Ct. Sept. 24, 1834.
Four of us regularly receive the Star from your office every month; several other subscribers have not taken since the close of the first year. My youngest son took the names of said subscribers at the commencement of the Star publication, but left this place for Missouri in August, 1832, in company with his brother Sidney, but alas! he was arrested by the cholera in St. Louis, and died after a few hour's illness. The recent death of my other son, (Sidney,) perhaps you may know more about than I do; and if any thing interesting in his late life and death may occur to your mind, and you will take the trouble to communicate the same to us by your useful paper, or by letter, you will confer a great favor on a numerous circle of connections, and friends whose affections for him were truly pathetic; for he was very dear unto us! We have heard of his death, it is true, and very little else; and since we, the late parents of the deceased, have become old children, you will not so much wonder at our anxious request. Indeed, every item since your acquaintance with him, and more particularly at the close of his life, we expect might be interesting to us, and would be received with sincere thanks from all your unknown friends in these parts.
The last visit from my son Sidney, was more than two years past; he then came from New—York, and left his business in that place, to recover his health (being an invalid.) He continued with us about two weeks, and in that time was pressed by his friends and acquaintances, to meet them and others, and inform them concerning the people, and book of Mormon—this he cheerfully did, as often as his low state of health would permit, and although threatened, and abused, by some of our pious persecutors, yet not much hurt nor interrupted; when a meeting was held, a goodly number were brought to serious enquiry concerning these things, and several would gladly have received baptism, as they afterwards told me. And thank God, some retain that desire and determination yet; and have been anxiously expecting an elder or preacher ever since, as my son gave us some reason to expect a brother Hyde, (but has since informed us, why he did not come.) I have no doubt but what a society would have been formed here more than 18 months ago, had an elder called on us, and spent a short time with us, as was expected. Nor do I much believe it is too late yet—I truly wish the experiment may be tried. And if it is in your power to direct any good brother preacher to Lewis Down's, or Isaac Buckingham's, at Huntington Conn. they would be cordially received, and kindly entertained.
I was in a very singular state of mind, when I received a letter from my son accompanying the book of Mormon, just after its publication. I gave it a close reading. And it bore hard upon my favorite notions of universal salvation. I read it again, and again with close attention and prayer. I examined the proof; the witnesses, and all other testimony, and compared it with that of the bible, (which book I verily thought I believed,) and found the two books mutually and reciprocally corroborate each other; and if I let go the book of Mormon, the bible might also go down by the same rule.
If Moses and the prophets, Christ and his apostles, were the real authors of the bible, chiefly revealed and written on the continent of Asia, was not the book of Mormon also written by men who were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, on the continent of America? And did not Jesus Christ as truly appear on the continent of America, after his resurrection, and choose twelve apostles to preach his gospel; and did he not deliver his holy doctrine, and teach the same to numerous multitudes on this American continent? I say, did he not as truly do these things here, after his resurrection, as he did the same in Jerusalem before his resurrection? My heart and soul replies yes; the proof is full and clear, and has recently been confirmed by angels from heaven, and what need have we of any further witnesses? No sir, I am well persuaded of the truth of that holy book.—I am an old man, almost 73; have read much in my day. My reading is now confined chiefly to the bible; the book of Mormon, and your papers, (or the Star.) I used to have letters often from my son; but his sudden death has deprived me of all hope from that source, the loss of which communication we greatly lament.
I know not that we shall ever hear any of the Mormon preachers but we really hope to; I have lately heard of a small society in Salisbury in this State; which is the only place where they have preached in Connecticut, I believe, about 70 miles from this place.
I do believe, if truth should prevail among us, concerning the people, and the book of Mormon, that the prejudice against our doctrine and discipline must give way; but while one "black coat" cries delusion, another says it's all the work of the devil, and a third cries blasphemy, and enthusiasm; and their people all settled on their lees, and well convinced of the correctness of their own views, viz: mungrel [mongrel] calvinism, and crippled arminianism and several other isms, and they all very piously groan out! "O we quite pity that poor persecuted people, the Mormons; but they are a deceived people; and while God, man and the devil, seem to be engaged against them, who dare be for them with any hope of success? O no, they must come down," &c. But notwithstanding all this apathy, while murder, robbery, blood and awful persecution, stalks through our land with such horrid front, still I believe all is not yet lost; no, I hear of the real success of some of our preachers in the Lord's vineyard, and I truly hope and pray, that some of our good "Mormon" preachers may soon visit this town; yes, and every other place, till Christ's church shall "become the joy of the whole earth," and the whole globe "covered with the knowledge of the Lord, even as the waters cover the sea."
We have two very pious priests in this small village; (or at least so called;) one of whom has been dismissed from his sacred charge, but once; the other we expect will be cashiered the third time in a few days from his beloved flock. These holy ministers are receiving but about ten or eleven hundred dollars per annum for all their hard services: viz reading one, and some times two sermons per week, which they made themselves, (they say.) and perhaps read the same to their first congregation years ago—and what then? are they not as good now as ever? yes, age is honorable, and they read them the better I think; and this is all the temporal reward these hard laborers get, except their wood, marriage bills, fresh bits, and other presents, which may amount to one or two hundred more, perhaps! Yes, these few good things and the "praise of men" is all these faithful stewards get per year for their hard labor in this small pious village, while some of their pious communicants, with our other town paupers, are fed and clothed at the enormous sum of 54 cents per week, which was the auction price of those who bid them off. I must confess for one, I had much rather pity, than persecute such poor ministers.
To OLIVER COWDERY.
P. S. Dear sir, should you favor us with a letter, please to direct to Eli Gilbert, Huntington, Fairfield co. Conn. And again, some of our neighbors, who read your paper with us, ask why so many revelations in the papers of your predecessor, Mr. Phelps, and none in yours? but I cannot tell them, and you are not obliged to inform us, and there the query rests.
We hear very little from the prophet lately. Three times our false papers have told us he was dead, and once mortally wounded in battle. This was his third death. The last news of him, stated that he was fleeing from the west, and declaring he was unable to raise the dead, or cure the cholera. Of course, his followers begin to fear that he may be liable to mortality. Such stuff has been filling the papers of the day for a long time.
No religion passes here, but that which is popular; and the most stilish [stylish] gets the most proselytes. Excuse errors; I am old, and have written as matter came into mind, at several times.
Having heard that certain reports are circulating abroad, prejudicial to the character of bro. JOSEPH SMITH Jr. and that said reports purport to have come from me, I have thought proper to give the public a plain statement of the fact concerning this matter. It is true, that some difficulties arose between bro. J. Smith Jr. and myself, in our travels the past summer to Missouri; and that on our return to this place I laid my grievances before a general council, where they were investigated in full, in an examination which lasted several days; and the result showed to the satisfaction all present, I believe; but especially to myself, that in all things bro. J. S jr. had conducted worthily, and adorned his profession as a man of God, while journeying to and from Missouri. And it is no more than just that I should confess my faults by saying unto all people, so far as your valuable and instructive paper has circulation, that the things that I accused bro. S. of were without foun-dation; as was most clearly proven by the evidence which was called, to my satisfaction. And in fact, I have not at any time withdrawn my confidence, and fellowship from bro. J. S. jr. but thought that he had inadvertently erred, being but flesh and blood, like the rest of Adam's family. But I am now perfectly satisfied that the errors of which I accused him, before the council, did not exist, and were never committed by him; and my contrition has been and still continues to be deep, because I admitted thoughts into my heart which were not right concerning him, and because that I have been the means of giving rise to reports which have gone abroad, censuring the conduct, of bro. J. S. jr. which reports are without foundation. And I hope, that this disclosure of the truth, written by my own hand, and sent abroad into the world, through the medium of the Messenger and Advocate, will put a final end to all evil reports and censurings, which have sprung out of any thing that I have said or done.
I wish still further to state, for the better relief of my own feelings, which, you must be sensible, are deeply wounded, in consequence of what has happened, that I know for myself; because I have received testimony from the heavens, that the work of the Lord, brought forth by means of the book of Mormon, in our day, through the instrumentality of bro. JOSEPH SMITH jr. is eternal truth, and must stand, though the heavens and the earth pass away.
Please give publicity to the above, and oblige a lover of righteousness and truth.
Yours in the testimony of Jesus.
To O. COWDERY.
Kirtland, October, 28, 1834.
MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE.
KIRTLAND, OHIO, OCTOBER, 1834.
-->An Apology.—This No. of the Messenger and Advocate has been delayed beyond the time we had designed issuing it, in consequence of our necessary abscence to the West, with a detention on the water of five days and nights longer than we had anticipated. We therefore excuse ourselves, because the delay was ordered by HIM who "holds the winds."
-->In consequence of our abscence, and not being able to finish our new office as early as we had anticipated, the first No. of the re—printed [reprinted] Star will not be issued till next month.
-->We invite the attention of our readers to the letter of our aged friend, Mr. E. Gilbert, Esq. He has, as appears, been a believer in Universal salvation. One is not left to wonder that many have sought for a relief from the former tyran[n]ical systems of men; and our hearts respond with gratitude when we reflect, that God has brought within our reach a plan, in this day, on which all may safely rely.
His deceased son, A. S. Gilbert, was one of our intimate friends, though for more than a year we had been separated. To answer the request of his aged parent, we shall give his biography, as far as we are acquainted, in a future No.
Bro. Z. Coltrin writes from Florida Mo. under date of Oct. 13, that a severe sickness is prevalent, and many deaths—some whole families are taken away.
-->A word to our patrons.—One No. more will close the year's subscription for the Star, and those failing to give notice for a discontinuance before the commencement of the next, will be held responsible for another Vol. We give this early information, that all may be prepared to give us the proper notice before the next Vol. commences, that we may make our arrangements accordingly.
It is proper to notice also, that no subscription for the Messenger and Advocate will be received for a less term than one year; and we earnestly solicit our friends to remember that all communications, to ensure attention, must come free of postage.
One sample will suffice to show the propriety of this arrangement: We receive a letter from a distance requesting a paper, unpaid, and costs 25 cents. Shortly we receive another from the same individual, expressing great love, and many pressing solicitations to come and preach, as many want to hear, which costs 25 cents more. Shortly we receive another requesting the direction to be altered, marked, 25 cents. And at the close of the year another for a discontinuance.—Indeed, our friends must think that printing is a profitable business, remembering that their subscription, all this time, has not been forwarded.
When subscribers are once obtained, perhaps some think, that by collecting for a second or 3d Vol. &c. they are to be allowed an eleventh No. Extra, the same as new subscribers; this is a mistake, and ought to be corrected.
Those wishing a discontinuance, should be particular to inform us the name of the office, and State, where such paper was directed; and also if any wish their names transferred, if they will be particular and inform where the paper is directed, as well as where to direct, they will often save us trouble. Except post offices are large the name of the county, as well as State should be forwarded.
Some few complaints have reached us that papers are not regularly received; but we assure our patrons that our mails are put up in the best manner, and if they do not receive them it is not our fault. They ought to be informed, also, that if their papers are used at the office, or lent by the Post Master, that it is their duty to report such Post Masters to the Department. A Post Master has no more authority to use or loan a paper coming to his office for another man, than he has to use his letters, or his money contained in the same!— Editor.
Departed this life on the 21st of Aug. last, at Westfield N. Y. sister SALLY LOUISA LEWIS, aged 24 years. The letter bringing the intelligence of her decease informs us of her faith and confidence in the merits of a risen Savior, and her willingness to enter a world the realities of which she has now gone to try; but like all others who have gone before, having previously embraced the everlasting gospel, has left a sweet consolation to all who knew her, that though they mourn it is not like those who have no hope.
In Hollis, Maine, Sept. 3rd. brother WILLIAM ANDREWS, aged 82 years.— Our aged brother was a soldier of the Revolution; served 2 years at one time, and was appointed to guard Gen. Washington's Baggage Wagons from Mass. to the South. At the close of the war he received an honorable and regular discharge; and for several years has drawn a pention [pension]. After the peace of 1782 he purchased a situation at Buxton, county of York, (district) now State of Maine, on which he resided till his death.
Thus, one after another, of those illustrious individuals, whose history we seek to perpetuate with an eagerness, we hope, becoming their descendants, are called from the enjoyment of that government which they bought with the price of blood. When we look after them now, but few are remaining; and it is as the prophet said of Israel: Like the gleaning of grapes when the vintage is done—here and there a cluster in the utmost branches.
In the summer of 1833 he was received into the church of the Latter Day Saints, and has continued, till his death, to adorn his profession. The brethren in that place, no doubt, felt the affliction, and were ready to offer the consoling hand to the remaining relatives. 'Tis just to weep with those who weep; but when we contemplate the happy change, and those joys which await the blessed, we have occasion to rejoice rather than mourn—and especially the aged, after having toiled their three score and ten years, and then been permitted to add another half, and fell at last like a ripened sheaf, with honor and peace—that God has instituted and revealed a system of salvation which has power to raise all, the young and the aged, and clothe them with perfection and glory.
Certain it is, that we are all travelling to that state of existence, where our conduct in this will either ensure happiness and consolation, or sorrow and grief. And with this certainty before their eyes, men pass on in thoughtlessness until death here closes their existence; but they are within the power of a just God, and so are all, and there we are willing to leave them; but in the prospects of the saints we have consolation and that joy to which this world are strangers.
In Clay county, Missouri, Sep. 15th. sister SALLY, wife of brother Newel Knight. Sister Knight was one of the first who embraced this gospel, in this day, and was baptized by our own hand on the 29th of June, 1830, in Colesville, Broome county, N. Y. These were days of trial to those who stepped forward in opposition to the popular theories of the age to embrace a system spoken against in every place where it was proclaimed; and on this occasion, feelings and anxieties indescribable possessed the heart of every faithful servant and well wisher of the kingdom of Christ. We well remember that the world were opposed to this doctrine; that many threats were made that violence should be resorted to if any one attempted to immerse a citizen of the place, and that at the time of attending to this solemn ordinance many began to assemble with insinuations and low indecorous language. But this was not a time to trifle with sacred things: this world, with its threats or flatteries was looked upon with equal feelings of disdain, and this our sister, with twelve others, bade a final farewell to the vanities of this generation, for a promise of inheritance with the sanctified.
When we consider her worth as a mother and companion, it is with no ordinary feeling that we fulfil this our last office in recording her decease, & noticing in a short account her circumspect walk in the church of the saints.
Coming into this church at the time of its first organization, it was her lot to pass through scenes the most trying to her nature. Forsaken and derided by the most of her relatives for her religion's sake, and called to accompany her husband to the far west with the first branch of the church which emigrated to that country, nothing short of an unshaken confidence in the kind interposition of Providence could have beeen [been] sufficient to encourage her to move forward. But this, we are prepared to say, she endured without a murmur.
She was driven, last fall, from Jackson county, by the mob, and was necessarily compelled to endure, with others, further afflictions and privations.—And when reflecting upon this paneful [painful] subject, we cannot but believe, that in that great day of retribution, when the Lord of Hosts calls men to judgment, that her prayers, with other like sufferers will be found recorded against a people thus wantonly depriving the innocent of the comforts of this life, and exposing them to afflictions, diseases, and death!
She has fled to those mansions prepared in the economy of the Lord, to dwell till she comes triumphant to receive a reward with the sanctified when peace shall crown the blessed, and the wicked cease from troubling; and we take this opportunity to assure our brother, and the remaining relatives of our sympathy, and especially as our sister was not only among the first in this last kingdom; has suffered with the first, but was immersed in the liquid grave, in imitation of the Savior's example, by our own hands. We only add, that though her society was agreeable; her walk circumspect and virtuous, and her precepts and examples worthy her profession, we cannot, we are not willing to indulge a wish for her return from the blessed state of peace and perfection which she is now permitted to enjoy, to further experience the distress and misery of this life; and we sincerely pray, that when they with us are called to pass the same narrow gate, and realize the certainty of death, we may be prepared to meet her in glory and enjoy with her eternal rest!
In Florida Mo. on the 5th of Sept. last, sister Elizabeth M'Cord, aged 54 years. She had been a member of the church of the Latter Day Saints about one year.— Editor.
Extract from the minutes of the High Council of the church of the Latter Day Saints, held in Kirtland, Sept. 24, 1834.
Resolved, That a notice be published to the conferences and churches abroad, signed by the clerks of the Council, that it is hereby decided, for the general good of the church, as a body, that no individual ordained hereafter, to the High Priesthood, will be acknowledged in that office except they are ordained in this Council: and that those desiring that office, obtain proper recommends from their respective churches.
Clerks of Council.
-->The following communication was designed to have been published in the last No. of the Star; but owing to a press of other matter it was laid over for this No. of the Messenger and Advocate. Since it was written, upon further reflection, we have thought that a full history of the rise of the church of the Latter Day Saints, and the most interesting parts of its progress, to the present time, would be worthy the perusal of the Saints.—If circumstances admit, an article on this subject will appear in each subsequent No. of the Messenger and Advocate, until the time when the church was driven from Jackson Co. Mo. by a lawless banditti; & such other remarks as may be thought appropriate and interesting.
That our narrative may be correct, and particularly the introduction, it is proper to inform our patrons, that our brother J. SMITH jr. has offered to assist us. Indeed, there are many items connected with the fore part of this subject that render his labor indispensable. With his labor and with authentic documents now in our possession, we hope to render this a pleasing and agreeable narrative, well worth the examination and perusal of the Saints.—To do justice to this subject will require time and space: we therefore ask the forbearance of our readers, assuring them that it shall be founded upon facts.
Norton, Medina co. Ohio, Sabbath evening, September 7, 1834.
Before leaving home, I promised, if I tarried long, to write; and while a few moments are now allowed me for reflection, aside from the cares and common conversation of my friends in this place, I have thought that were I to communicate them to you, might, perhaps, if they should not prove especially beneficial to yourself, by confirming you in the faith of the gospel, at least be interesting, since it has pleased our heavenly Father to call us both to rejoice in the same hope of eternal life. And by giving them publicity, some thousands who have embraced the same covenant, may learn something more particular upon the rise of this church, in this last time. And while the gray evening is fast changing into a settled darkness, my heart responds with the happy millions who are in the presence of the Lamb, and are past the power of temptation, in rendering thanks, though feebly, to the same Parent.
Another day has passed, into that, to us, boundless ocean, ETERNITY! where nearly six thousand years have gone before; and what flits across the mind like an electric shock is, that it will never return! Whether it has been well improved or not; whether the principles emanating from HIM who "hallowed" it, have been observed; or whether, like the common mass of time, it has been heedlessly spent, is not for me to say—one thing I can say—It can never be recalled!—it has rolled in to assist in filling up the grand space decreed in the mind of its Author, till nature shall have ceased her work, and time its accustomed revolutions—when its Lord shall have completed the gathering of his elect, and with them enjoy that Sabbath which shall never end!
On Friday, the 5th, in company with our brother JOSEPH SMITH jr. I left Kirtland for this place (New Portage,) to attend the conference previously appointed. To be permitted, once more, to travel with this brother, occasions reflections of no ordinary kind. Many have been the fateagues [fatigues] and privations which have fallen to my lot to endure, for the gospel's sake, since 1828, with this brother. Our road has frequently been spread with the "fowler's snare," and our persons sought with the eagerness, of the Savage's ferocity, for innocent blood, by men, either heated to desperation by the insinuations of those who professed to be "guides and way—marks" to the kingdom of glory, or the individuals themselves!—This, I confess, is a dark picture to spread before our patrons, but they will pardon my plainness when I assure them of the truth. In fact, God has so ordered, that the reflections which I am permitted to cast upon my past life, relative to a knowledge of the way of salvation, are rendered "doubly endearing." Not only have I been graciously preserved from wicked and unreasonable men, with this our brother, but I have seen the fruit of perseverance in proclaiming the everlasting gospel, immediately after it was declared to the world in these last days, in a manner not to be forgotten while heaven gives my common intellect. And what serves to render the reflection past expression on this point is, that from his hand I received baptism, by the direction of the angel of God—the first received into this church, in this day.
Near the time of the setting of the Sun, Sabbath evening, April 5th, 1829, my natural eyes, for the first time beheld this brother. He then resided in Harmony, Susquehanna county Penn. On Monday the 6th, I assisted him in arranging some business of a temporal nature, and on Tuesday the 7th, commenced to write the book of Mormon. These were days never to be forgotten—to sit under the sound of a voice dictated by the inspiration of heaven, awakened the utmost gratitude of this bosom! Day after day I continued, uninterrupted, to write from his mouth, as he translated, with the Urim and Thummim, or, as the Nephites whould [would] have said, "Interpreters," the history, or record, called "The book of Mormon."
To notice, in even few words, the interesting account given by Mormon, and his faithful son Moroni, of a people once beloved and favored of heaven, would supersede my present design: I shall therefore defer this to a future period, and as I said in the introduction, pass more directly to some few incidents immediately connected with the rise of this church, which may be entertaining to some thousands who have stepped forward, amid the frowns of bigots and the calumny of hypocrites, and embraced the gospel of Christ.
No men in their sober senses, could translate and write the directions given to the Nephites, from the mouth of the Savior, of the precise manner in which men should build up his church, and especially, when corruption had spread an uncertainty over all forms and systems practiced among men, without desiring a privilege of showing the willingness of the heart by being buried in the liquid grave, to answer a "good conscience by the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
After writing the account given of the Savior's ministry to the remnant of the seed of Jacob, upon this continent, it was easily to be seen, as the prophet said would be, that darkness covered the earth and gross darkness the minds of the people. On reflecting further, it was as easily to be seen, that amid the great strife and noise concerning religion, none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the gospel. For, the q[u]estion might be asked, have men authority to administer in the name of Christ, who deny revelations? when his testimony is no less than the spirit of prophecy? and his religion based, built, and sustained by immediate revelations in all ages of the world, when he has had a people on earth? If these facts were buried, and carefully concealed by men whose craft would have been in danger, if once permitted to shine in the faces of men, they were no longer to us; and we only waited for the commandment to be given, "Arise and be baptized."
This was not long desired before it was realized. The Lord, who is rich in mercy, and ever willing to answer the consistent prayer of the humble, after we had called upon him in a fervent manner, aside from the abodes of men, condescended to manifest to us his will. On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the vail was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the gospel of repentance!—What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world were racked and distracted—while millions were grouping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld—our ears heard. As in the "blaze of day;" yes, more—above the glitter of the May Sun beam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, "I am thy fellow servant," dispelled every fear. We listened—we gazed—we admired! 'Twas the voice of the angel from glory—'twas a message from the Most High! and as we heard we rejoiced, while his love enkindled upon our souls, and we were rapt in the vision of the Almighty! Where was room for doubt? No where: uncertainty had fled, doubt had sunk, no more to rise, while fiction and deception had fled forever!
But, dear brother think, further think for a moment, what joy filled our hearts and with what surprise we must have bowed, (for who would not have bowed the knee for such a blessing?) when we received under his hand the holy priesthood, as he said, "upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer this priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!"
I shall not attempt to paint to you the feelings of this heart, nor the majestic beauty and glory which surrounded us on this occasion; but you will believe me when I say, that earth, nor men, with the eloquence of time, cannot begin to clothe language in as interesting and sublime a manner as this holy personage. No; nor has this earth power to give the joy, to bestow the peace, or comprehend the wisdom which was contained in each sentence as they were delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit! Man may deceive his fellow man; deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may have power to seduce the foolish and untaught, till nought but fiction feeds the many, and the fruit of falsehood carries in its current the giddy to the grave; but one touch with the finger of his love, yes, one ray of glory from the upper world, or one word from the mouth of the Savior, from the bosom of eternity, strikes it all into insignificance, and blots it forever from the mind! The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel; the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me, past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior's goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry, and in those mansions where perfection dwells and sin never comes, I hope to adore in that DAY which shall never cease!*
To—day the church in this place assembled, and were addressed on the great and important subject of salvation by brother JARED CARTER, followed by brother SIDNEY RIGDON. The cheering truths ably and eloquently advanced by these brethren were like "apples of gold in baskets of silver."—The saints listened with attention, after which bread was broken, and we offered another memorial to our Lord that we remembered him.
I must close for the present: my candle is quite extinguished, and all nature seems locked in silence, shrouded in darkness, and enjoying that repose so necessary to this life. But the period is rolling on when night will close, and those who are found worthy will inherit that city where neither the light of the sun nor moon will be necessary! "for the glory of God will lighten it, and the Lamb will be the light thereof."
To W. W. PHELPS, Esq.
P. S. I shall write you again on the subject of the Coference [Conference]. O. C.
* I will hereafter give you a full history of the rise of this church, up to the time stated in my introduction; which will necessarily embrace the life and character of this brother. I shall therefore leave the history of baptism, &c. till its proper place.
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