- We continue to offer further reflections to Bishop Partridge and to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whom we love with a fervent love, and do always bear them in mind, in all our prayers, to the throne of God.
- It still seems to bear heavily on our minds that the church would do well to secure to themselves the contract of the land which is proposed to them by Mr. Isaac Galland, and to cultivate the friendly feelings of that gentleman, inasmuch as he shall prove himself to be a man of honor and a friend to humanity. We really think that his letter breathes that kind of a spirit, if we can judge correctly, and Isaac Van Allen, Esq., the Attorney General of Iowa Territory, that peradventure such men may be wrought upon by the providence of God to do good unto his people; Governor [Robert] Lucas also. We suggest the idea of praying fervently for all men who manifest any degree of sympathy for the suffering children of God. We think that peradventure the United States Surveyor of the Iowa Territory may be of great benefit to the church, if it be the will of God, to this end, if righteousness should be manifested as the girdle of our loins.
- It seems to be deeply impressed upon our minds that the saints ought to lay hold of every door that shall seem to be opened unto them, to obtain foothold on the earth, and be making all the preparation that is within the power of possibilities for the terrible storms that are now gathering in the heavens with darkness and gloominess, and thick darkness as spoken of by the prophets, which cannot be now of a longtime lingering. For there seems to be a whispering that the angels of Heaven who have been entrusted with the counsel of these matters for the last days have taken counsel together. And among the rest of the general affairs that have to be transacted in their honorable council, they have taken cognizance of the testimony of those who were murdered at Hawn’s Mill, and also those who were martyred with D[avid] W. Patten and elsewhere, and have passed some decisions peradventure in favor of the saints, and those who were called to suffer without cause. These decisions will be made known in their time, and they will take into consideration all those things that offend.
- We have a fervent desire that in your general conferences everything should be discussed with a great deal of care and propriety, lest you grieve the holy spirit, which shall be poured out at all times upon your heads when you are exercised with those principles of righteousness that are agreeable to the mind of God, and are properly affected one toward another, and are careful by all means to remember those who are in bondage, and in heaviness, and in deep affliction, for your sakes. And if there are any among you who aspire after their own aggrandizement, and seek their own opulence, while their brethren are groaning in poverty, and are under sore trials and temptations, they cannot be benefited by the intercession of the holy spirit, which makes intercession for us day and night with groaning that cannot be uttered. We ought at all times to be very careful that such high-mindedness never have place in our hearts, but condescend to men of low estate, and with all long-suffering bear the infirmities of the weak.
- Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson — that the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the Powers of Heaven and that the Powers of Heaven cannot be controlled nor handled, only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true, but when we undertake to cover our sins or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, or dominion, or compulsion, upon the souls of the children of men in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the Heavens withdraw themselves, the spirit of the Lord is grieved, and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
- No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood; only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul; without hypocrisy and without guile; reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the holy ghost, and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom you have reproved (lest he esteem you to be his enemy), that he may know that your faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death; your bowels also being full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith; and virtue garnish your thoughts unceasingly. Then shall your confidence wax strong in the presence of God, and the doctrines of the Priesthood shall distill upon your soul as the dews from heaven. The holy ghost shall be your constant companion, and your scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth, and your dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto you for ever and ever.
- The ends of the earth shall inquire after your name, and fools shall have you in derision, and hell shall rage against you, while the pure in heart, and the wise, and the noble, and the virtuous shall seek counsel, and authority, and blessings constantly from under your hand. And your people shall never be turned against you by the testimony of traitors, and although their influence shall cast you into trouble, and into bars and walls, you shall be had in honor. And but for a small moment, and your voice shall be more terrible in the midst of your enemies than the fierce lion, because of your righteousness, and your God shall stand by you for ever and ever.
- If you are called to pass through tribulation, if you are in perils among false brethren, if you are in perils among robbers, if you are in perils by land or by sea, if you are accused with all manner of false accusations, if your enemies fall upon you, if they tear you from the society of your father, and mother, and brethren, and sisters, and if, with a drawn sword, your enemies tear you from the bosom of your wife, and of your offspring, and your elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to your garments and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O my father, what are the men going to do with you? — and if then he shall be thrust from you by the sword, and you be dragged to prison, and your enemies prowl around you like wolves for blood of the lamb, and if you should be cast into the pit or into the hands of murderers and the sentence of death passed upon you, if you be cast into the deep, if the billowing surge conspire against you, if fierce winds become your enemy, if the heavens gather blackness and all the elements combine to hedge up the way, and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open her mouth wide after you, know, my son, that all these things shall give you experience and shall be for your good. The Son of Man has descended below them all. Are you greater than he?
- Therefore, hold on your way, and the Priesthood shall remain with you, for their bounds are set; they cannot pass. Your days are known, and your years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you for ever and ever.
- Now brethren, I would suggest for the consideration of the conference, of its being carefully and wisely understood by the council or conferences, that our brethren scattered abroad, who understand the spirit of the gathering, that they fall into the places of refuge and safety that God shall open unto them between Kirtland and Far West. Those from the east and from the west and from far countries, let them fall in somewhere between those two boundaries, in the most safe and quiet places they can find. And let this be the present understanding until God shall open a more effectual door for us for further considerations.
- And again, we further suggest for the consideration of the council that there be no organizations of large bodies upon common stock principles, in property or of large companies of firms, until the Lord shall signify it in a proper manner, as it opens such a dreadful field for the avaricious, and the indolent, and corrupt-hearted to prey upon the innocent, and virtuous, and honest.
- We have reason to believe that many things were introduced among the saints before God had signified the times, and notwithstanding the principles and plans may have been good, yet aspiring men, or in other words men who had not the substance of godliness about them, perhaps undertook to handle edged tools. Children, you know, are fond of tools, while they are not yet able to use them. Time and experience, however, is the only safe remedy against such evils. There are many teachers, but perhaps not many fathers. There are times coming when God will signify many things which are expedient for the well-being of the saints, but the times have not yet come, but will come as fast as there can be found place and reception for them.
- And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings, and abuses put upon them by the people of this state, and also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries, as well as real property, and also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out. And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits, and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat, and all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published, and that are writing, and by whom, and present the whole concatenation of diabolical rascality, and nefarious and murderous impositions that have been practiced upon this people, that we may not only publish to all the world, but present them to the heads of the government, in all their dark and hellish hue, as the last effort which is enjoined on us by our Heavenly Father before we can fully and completely claim that promise which shall call him forth from his hiding place, and also that the whole nation may be left without excuse before he can send forth the power of his mighty arm.
- It is an imperious duty that we owe to God, to angels with whom we shall be brought to stand, and also to ourselves, to our wives, and our children who have been made to bow down with grief, sorrow, and care under the most damning hand of murder, tyranny, and oppression, supported, and urged on, and upheld by the influence of that spirit which has so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who have inherited lies upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. It is an iron yoke, it is a strong band; they are the very handcuffs, and chains, and shackles, and fetters of hell.
- Therefore, it is an imperious duty that we owe, not only to our own wives and children, but to the widows and fatherless, whose husbands and fathers have been murdered under its iron hand, which dark and blackening deeds are enough to make hell itself shudder, and to stand aghast and pale, and the hands of the very Devil to tremble and palsy. And also it is an imperious duty that we owe to all the rising generation and to all the pure in heart (which there are many yet on the earth, among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it), therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness wherein we know them and they are truly manifest from Heaven.
- These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things, for there is much which lies in futurity, pertaining to the saint, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm, in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves. Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still with the utmost assurance to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
- And again, I would further suggest the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenant or oaths, by penalties or secrecies, but let the time past of our experience and sufferings by the wickedness of Doctor [Sampson] Avard suffice, and let our covenant be that of the everlasting covenant, as is contained in the Holy Writ, and the things that God has revealed unto us. Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy.
- Your humble servant, or servants, intend from henceforth to disapprove of everything that is not in accordance with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is not of a bold, and frank, and an upright nature. They will not hold their peace, as in times past, when they see iniquity beginning to rear its head, for fear of traitors, or the consequences that shall follow by reproving those who creep in unawares that they may get something to destroy the flock.
- We believe that the experience of the saints in times past has been sufficient that they will from henceforth be always ready to obey the truth, without having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. It is expedient that we should be aware of such things, and we ought always to be aware of those prejudices which sometimes so strangely presented themselves, and are so congenial to human nature, against our neighbors, friends, and brethren of the world who choose to differ with us in opinion and in matters of faith. Our religion is between us and our God; their religion is between them and their God.
- There is a tie from God that should be exercised toward those of our faith who walk uprightly which is peculiar to itself, but it is without prejudice, but gives scope to the mind, which enables us to conduct ourselves with greater liberality toward all others that are not of our faith than what they exercise toward one another. These principles approximate nearer to the mind of God, because it is like God, or God-like.
- There is a principle also, which we are bound to be exercised with, that is in common with all men, such as governments, and laws, and regulations in the civil concerns of life. This principle guarantees to all parties, sects, and denominations, and classes of religion, equal, coherent, and indefeasible rights. They are things that pertain to this life, therefore all are alike interested. They make our responsibilities one toward another, in matters of corruptible things, while the former principles do not destroy the latter, but bind us stronger and make our responsibilities not only one to another, but unto God also. Hence we say that the Constitution of the United States is a glorious standard. It is founded in the wisdom of God. It is a Heavenly banner. It is, to all those who are privileged with the sweets of its liberty, like the cooling shades and refreshing waters of a great rock in a thirsty and weary land. It is like a great tree under whose branches men from every clime can be shielded from the burning rays of a sun.
- We brethren are deprived of the protection of this glorious principle by the cruelty of the cruel, by those who only look for the time being for pasturage, like the beasts of the field, only to fill themselves, and forget that the Mormons, as well as the Presbyterians and those of every other class and description, have equal rights to partake of the fruits of the great tree of our national liberty. But notwithstanding, we see what we see, and we feel what we feel, and know what we know, yet that fruit is no less precious and delicious to our taste. We cannot be weaned from the milk, neither can we be drawn from the breast, neither will we deny our religion because of the hand of oppression, but we will hold on until death.
- We say that God is true, that the Constitution of the United States is true, that the Bible is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that the Book of Covenants is true, that Christ is true, that the ministering angels sent forth from God are true, and that we know that we have a house, not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens, whose builder and maker is God — a consolation which our oppressors cannot feel when fortune or fate shall lay its iron hand on them as it has on us.
- Now, we ask, what is man? Remember, brethren, that time and chance happen to all men. We shall continue our reflections in our next.
- We subscribe ourselves your sincere friends and brethren in the bonds of the everlasting gospel, prisoners of Jesus Christ for the sake of the gospel and the saints. We pronounce the blessing of Heaven upon the heads of the saints who seek to serve God with undivided hearts, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
A letter from Joseph Smith Jr. and four others, written from Liberty Jail, circa 22 March 1839, addressed to Bishop Edward Partridge and to the church.
Joseph Smith Jr.