Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate/Volume 3/Number 2/Mission in the south
MISSION IN THE SOUTH.
I left this place (Kirtland) on the 3rd day of May last, and bent my course to the south, with the intention of visiting the churches in Kentucky and Tennessee which I had been instrumental in building up on a previous mission to that country.
I went on board a Steamer at Wellsville, a small town on the Ohio river, situated 450 miles above the city of Cincinnati, and travelled down it about 1000 miles, touching at a great variety of towns on its banks, in Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky, either to discharge or receive freight and passengers, and up the Tennessee river 80 miles. While performing this journey, I obtained permission & preached several times to the passengers on board who listened with attention and treated me with respect, and as there were many persons traveling to different parts, I cheerfully embraced the opportunity of saluting their ears with the sound of that gospel that our Savior has commanded his servants to proclaim in all the world to every creature. I also witnessed several of those distressing occurrences, that are so common on our southern waters, occasioned by steam boats running against each other, boilers bursting, &c. in consequence of the unskillful management of captains and pilots, and indeed when I reflect upon the abominations that are practiced on board these floating sinks of iniquity, I marvel that God does not execute more speedy vengeance upon them.—At about midnight having just dismissed the congregation on board, to whom I had been preaching the word, I found myself landed in Henry county, Tennessee, on the very spot where I stood upon the banks of the river something less than one year before, and lifted up my voice to a multitude, and proclaimed salvation to them upon the terms of obedience to the gospel of the Son of God as revealed to us in the new and everlasting covenant; and I not only stood upon its banks, but troubled its waters by administering the ordinance of baptism, and while I took the parting hand with them and bid them farewell, they were overwhelmed in tears. I was now in the neighborhood of the churches to which I hastened with great anxiety and was received by them with every expression of joy. But among those who were not of the fold of Christ I met with a very different reception. I found many of those whose minds had been enlightened, who had witnessed the fruits of the ancient gospel, and had been believing, were not unlike the inhabitants of Lystra, when Paul and Barnabas ministered to them: the preaching of these servants of God so far exceeded the preaching of their idolatrous priests, they cried, that the gods had come down in the likeness of men, and rushed to the temple of Jupiter which stood without the gates of the city, aud [and] sought to crown them with garlands, and sacrifise [sacrifice] even to their worship, and it was with difficulty that the apostles persuaded them to desist from their unhallowed offering, and rent their clothes as a mark of detestation and abhor[r]ence of their conduct. But not long after certain of the unbelieving Jews and idolaters of Antioch and Iconium, followed Paul to Lystra, and persuaded the people that he was a wicked majician [magician], and they rose with one consent and stoned him, and dragged him out of the city; and left him unburied in the high way believing him to be dead. I have said that our enemies in the south were not unlike the inhabitants of Lystra. Perhaps they would not have sacrifised [sacrificed] their oxen to us, upon the altar of burnt offerings, but they cheerfully sacrifised [sacrificed] of their substance to feed and clothe us, and their meetings and priests to attend, to our ministration, and acknowledge the force of truth while sitting under its influence, and cried out from whence have these men this great wisdom of the things of God and appeared willing to lay down their lives for us. On the other hand they were not unlike them. Soon after I returned to the south, I fell in company with elder Patten, my fellow laborer in this part of the Lord's vineyard; with whom I have endured many perils, afflictions and persecutions, in our own native land, and in distant countries, by land and by water, among congregated multitudes, and in the solitary wilderness. We visited the churches, and again suffered persecution together; wicked men and idolatrous worshipers led by priests and peace officers enlisted their combined influence against us, and sought our lives and again they were like the unbelieving Jews of Thesalonica, when Paul entered into their synagogues, and reasoned with them out of the scriptures; moved with envy they took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort and set all the regions round about in an uproar and assaulted the house of one Utley, and brought us out unto the people crying, these that have turned the world upside down, have come again to Benton county and teach doctrines contrary to sectarianism, saying, that there is another prophet, one Joseph Smith like unto Moses, whom the Lord hath chosen to lead his people out of the wilderness in these last days, and by whose hand he hath brought forth the record of Ephraim; and they were minded to take us before the magistrates; but when they had taken large security they let us go till another day. Our lives were threatened and sought for, in public and in private, like the hunted roe in the forest; at length we were taken before the rulers, and examined not by scourging, but by threat[e]ning , and strictly charged to teach no more in their midst the fulness of the gospel in the name of Jesus and banished from their society, and the brethren immediately sent us away to Middle Tennessee; and we entered into their synagogues and preached the word. These were more noble than those of Benton county, for they searched the scriptures daily whether these things were so; but certain philosophers, clergymen of the Presbyterian and Methodist faith said What is it that these bab[b]lers say?—"They seem to be setters forth of strange gods," because they preach unto us the doctrine contained in the Bible and Book of Mormon, saying, these are the fulness of the gospel; "Others spent their time in nothing but to hear or tell some new thing." However there seemed to be many believing, and a vast field open for laborers in the vineyard of the Lord in the south.
On our return from Middle, to West Tennessee we passed through Benton county. As soon as we arrived within its boundaries we were hunted by our persecutors who followed us like blood-hounds through the county, the distance of about twenty miles, but out of their hands the Lord delivered us.—I took the parting hand with elder Patten and set out by stage from Tennessee for home. I passed through many towns in this state and Kentucky, and gave the warning voice to many of them; in some towns I spent three days and others six. And I feel it a duty I owe to the southern people in general, to acknowledge the hospitality and politeness with which I have been treated while travelling among them as a minister of the gospel: and I verily believe that God has much people in that country, that will come like doves to the windows when He calls to the north to give up, and the south to keep not back, his sons to be brought from afar and his daughters from the ends of the earth. And although in my mission of four months, during which time I travelled upwards of three thousand miles and preached about 70 discourses, and baptized but few, yet I trust that my labors will be like bread cast upon the waters, the fruits of which, is seen many days after.—When I found myself safely restored again to the society of my companion and friends, and on retrospecting the past goodness of God, my soul breaks forth in adoration and praise to my heavenly Father, for his tender mercies are truly over me continually, his great liberality supplies all my wants, and his protecting and fostering hand, shields me from all harm. Thou O Lord art exalted above all other gods,—there is none in heaven, or on earth, like unto thee,—thou dost hold the des-tinies of all nations in thine almighty hand,—thou art the giver of all good, and perfect gifts,—in the deepest wounds of affliction thou hast comforted me,—when wicked men have sought to ensnare my feet, thou hast delivered me,—when I have been surrounded with the turmoils, and miseries, incident to human life, thou hast calmed my stormy feelings and quelled my rising fears,—when pestilence has walked in darkness and destruction wasted at noon day, thou hast tranquilized my mind, and said, "Be still and know that I am God,—Therefore will I magnify the name of the Lord of hosts forever more.