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Messenger and Advocate/2/2
Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate: Volume 2, Number 2
Summary:Source document in Mormon Publications: 19th and 20th Centuries online archive: Messenger and Advocate Vol. 2
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Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate: Volume 2, Number 2
|LATTER DAY SAINTS'|
|MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE|
|Volume II. No. 2.]||KIRTLAND, OHIO, NOVEMBER, 1835.||[Whole No. 14.|
(Continued from page 182.)
To the elders of the church of the Latter Day Saints.
At the close of my letter in the September No. of the "Messenger and Advocate," I promised to continue the subject there commended: I do so with a hope that it may be a benefit and a means of assistance to the elders in their labors while they are combating the prejudices of a crooked and perverse generation, by having in their possession, the facts of my religious principles, which are misrepresented by almost all those whose crafts are in danger by the same; and also to aid those who are anxiously inquiring, and have been excited to do so from rumor, in ascertaining correctly, what my principles are.
I have been drawn into this course of proceeding, by persecution, that is brought upon us from false rumor, and misrepresentations concerning my sentiments.
But to proceed, in the letter alluded to, the principles of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, are not only set forth, but many passages of scripture, were quoted, clearly illucidating [elucidating] the subject; let me add, that I do positively rely upon the truth and veracity of those principles inculcated in the new testament; and then pass from the above named items, on to the item or subject of the gathering, and show my views upon this point: which is an item which I esteem to be of the greatest importance to those who are looking for salvation in this generation, or in these what may be called "the latter times," as all the prophets that have written, from the days of righteous Abel down to the last man, that has left any testimony on record, for our consideration, in speaking of the salvation of Israel in the last days, goes directly to show, that it consists in the work of the gathering.
Firstly, I shall begin by quoting from the prophecy of Enoch, speaking of the last days: "Righteousness will I send down out of heaven, and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten, his resurrection from the dead, [this resurrection I understand to be the corporeal body] yea, and also the resurrection of all men, righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine own elect from the four quarters of the earth, unto a place which I shall prepare; a holy city, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming: for there shall be my tabernacle; and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem."
Now I understand by this quotation, that God clearly manifested to Enoch, the redemption which he prepared, by offering the Messiah as a Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world: by virtue of the same, the glorious resurrection of the Savior, and the resurrection of all the human family,—even a resurrection of their corporeal bodies: and also righteousness and truth are agoing to sweep the earth as with a flood? I will answer:—Men and angels are to be co—workers in bringing to pass this great work: and a Zion is to be prepared; even a New Jerusalem, for the elect that are to be gathered from the four quarters of the earth, and to be established an holy city: for the tabernacle of the Lord shall be with them.
Now Enoch was in good company in his views upon this subject. See Revelations, 23:3 [21:3]—"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying. Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God." I discover by this quotation, that John upon the isle of Patmos, saw the same things concerning the last days, which Enoch saw. But before the tabernacle can be with men, the elect must be gathered from the four quarters of the earth.
And to show further upon this subject of gathering: Moses, after having pronounced the blessing and the cursing upon the children of Israel, for their obedience or disobedience, says thus:—"And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee; and thou shalt
call them to mind, among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice, according to all that I command thee, this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that then the Lord thy God, will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath scattered thee; and if any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven; from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee; and from thence will he fetch thee."
It has been said by many of the learned, and wise men, or historians, that the Indians, or aboriginees of this continent, are of the scattered tribes of Israel. It has been conjectured by many others, that the aboriginees of this continent, are not of the tribes of Israel; but the ten tribes have been led away into some unknown regions of the north. Let this be as it may, the prophesy I have just quoted, "will fetch them" in the last days, and place them, in the land which their fathers possessed: and you will find in the 7th verse of the 30th chapt. quoted: "And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee."
Many may say that this scripture is fulfilled, but let them mark carefully what the prophet says: "If any are driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven;" (which must mean the breadths of the earth.) Now this promise is good to any, if there should be such, that are driven out, even in the last days: therefore, the children of the fathers have claim unto this day: and if these curses are to be laid over on the heads of their enemies, wo be unto the Gentiles: See book of Mormon, page 487, Wo unto the unbelieving of the Gentiles, saith the Father. Again see book of Mormon, page 497, which says: "Behold this people will I establish in this land, unto the fulfilling of the covenant which I made with your father Jacob: and it shall be a New Jerusalem." Now we learn from the book of Mormon, the very identical continent and spot of land upon which the new Jerusalem is to stand, and it must be caught up according to the vision of John upon the isle of Patmos. Now many will be disposed to say, that this New Jerusalem spoken of, is the Jerusalem that was built by the Jews on the eastern continent: But you will see from Revelations, 21:2, there was a New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven, adorned as a bride for her husband. That after this the Revelator was caught away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and saw the great and holy city descending out of heaven from God. Now there are two cities spoken of here, and as every thing cannot be had in so narrow a compass as a letter, I shall say with brevity, that there is a New Jerusalem to be established on this continent.—And also the Jerusalem shall be rebuilt on the eastern continent. See book of Mormon, page 566. Behold, Ether saw the days of Christ, and he spake also concerning the house of Israel, and the Jerusalem from whence Lehi should come: after it should be destroyed it should be built up again, a holy city unto the Lord: wherefore, it could not be a New Jerusalem, for it had been in a time of old. This may suffice upon the subject of gathering until my next.
I now proceed, at the close of my letter, to make a few remarks on the duty of elders with regard to their teachings parents and children, husbands and wives, masters and slaves, or servants, &c. as I said I would in my former letter. And firstly, it becomes an elder when he is travelling through the world, warning the inhabitants of the earth to gather together, that they may be built up an holy city unto the Lord, instead of commencing with children or those who look up to parents or guardians, to influence their minds, thereby drawing them from their duties, which they rightfully owe to such, they should commence their labors with parents, or guardians, and their teachings should be such as are calculated to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers. And no influence should be used, with children contrary to the consent of their parents or guardians.—But all such as can be persuaded in a lawful and righteous manner, and with common consent, we should feel it our duty to influence them to gather with the people of God. But otherwise let the responsibility rest upon the heads of parents or guardians, and all condemnation or consequences, be upon
their heads, according to the dispensation which he hath committed unto us: for God has so ordained, that his work shall be cut short in righteousness, in the last days: therefore, first teach the parents, and then, with their consent, let him persuade the children to embrace the gospel also. And if children embrace the gospel, and their parents or guardians are unbelievers, teach them to stay at home and be obedient to their parents or guardians, if they require it; but if they consent to let them gather with the people of God let them do so and there shall be no wrong and let all things be done carefully, and righteously, and God will extend his guardian care to all such.
And secondly, it should be the duty of elders, when they enter into any house, to let their labors and warning voice be unto the master of that house: and if he receive the gospel, then he may extend his influence to his wife also, with consent, that peradventure she may receive the gospel; but if a man receive not the gospel, but gives his consent that his wife may receive it, and she believes, then let her receive it. But if the man forbid his wife, or his children before they are of age, to receive the gospel, then it should be the duty of the elder to go his way and use no influence against him: and let the responsibility be upon his head—shake off the dust of thy feet as a testimony against him, and thy skirts shall then be clear of their souls. Their sins are not to be answered upon such as God hath sent to warn them to flee the wrath to come, and save themselves from this untoward generation. The servants of God will not have gone over the nations of the Gentiles, with a warning voice, until the destroying angel will commence to waste the inhabitants of the earth; and as the prophet hath said. "It shall be a vexation to hear the report." I speak because I feel for my fellow—men: I do it in the name of the Lord, being moved upon by the Holy Spirit. O that I could snatch them from the vortex of misery, into which I behold them plunging themselves, by their sins, that I may be enabled, by the warning voice, to be an instrument of bringing them to unfeigned repentance, that they may have faith to stand in the evil day.
Thirdly, it should be the duty of an elder, when he enters into a house to salute the master of that house, and if he gain his consent, then he may preach to all that are in that house, but if he gain not his consent, let him go not unto his slaves or servants, but let the responsibility be upon the head of the master of that house, and the consequences thereof; and the guilt of that house is no longer upon thy skirts: Thou art free; therefore, shake off the dust of thy feet, and go thy way. But if the master of that house give consent; that they mayest preach to his family, his wife, his children, and his servants, his man—servants, or his maid—servants, or his slaves, then it should be the duty of the elder to stand up boldly for the cause of Christ, and warn that people with one accord, to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and for the Holy Ghost, always commanding them in the name of the Lord, in the spirit of meekness to be kindly affected one towards another; that the fathers should be kind to their children, husbands to their wives; masters to their slaves or servants; children obedient to their parents, wives to their husbands, and slaves or servants to their masters."
"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the Savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh: but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.—For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh."—Ephesians, Chapt. 5. from the 22d to the end of the 21st. [31st] verse.
"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh: not with eye service as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God."—Colocians [Colossians], Chapt. III. from the 18th to the end of the 22d verse.
But I must close this letter and resume the subject in another number.
In the bonds of the new
and everlasting covenant
JOSEPH SMITH, jr.
To J. WHITMER, Esq.
ORDER OF THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH. No. I.
Brother J. Whitmer:
I feel at this time like writing a letter for the Messenger and Advocate, on a subject which I shall call the order of the new testament church. A subject I conclude which is not very well understood, if I may have the privilege of judging from what passes before my eyes, and what is sounded in my ears.
The many persons who are travelling traveling] through every part of the country, passing to preach what they call the gospel, and to call men into the kingdom of God; saying that they have the right to do so, not only the right to do so; but are under the strongest obligation to do it, both as a duty to God and man, that they may glorify the former, and save the latter; and this duty and obligation, grows out of the commandment of the Savior, found recorded in the new testament, and reads thus. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.—He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not, shall be damned."
I feel a little disposed to inquire into the nature of this commission, and the circumstances attending its promulgation, to see how far they are bound by it, and are in danger of being cursed if they do not obey it, or in other words, who is able to obey it; for my part I think there is less danger of a curse by not attempting to act under it, than there is by attempting to act under it.
I should think that I was in greater danger of being condemned, to go forth into the world to preach the gospel, by virtue of that commission, that I would be to follow the plough, to shove the plain, to use the hammer or to pursue any other honest calling in life, and would benefit mankind more, and glorify God better. And so would any other man also.
It is a very common thing for men who are unlearned in the truth, to be very consciencious [conscientious] in advocating error, and exceedingly zealous in propagating, and teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and doing what the Lord never required at their hand, and leaving undone the things which he has required; this seems especially to be the case in relation to preaching the gospel, (as the people call it.) for while the order of things which the Lord established for the redemption of the world is left untouched, the order of things which men have invented for themselves, is propagated with the most untiring perseverance, and with a zeal worthy of the best cause in the world.
Men encompass sea and land to establish their opinions, and to give force and power to their doctrines, and to all appearance are as conscientious as if the Lord had called and commissioned them, and had sent them forth to do so, under the penalty of the perdition of ungodly men if they did it not. A looker on would be ready to conclude, that they were ordained from days of old to this ignorance. But notwithstanding all the zeal, and perseverance, and apparent consciousness of the many teachers of religion, still, when a man takes the new testament into his hands and begins to hunt for their authority, he is greatly dificulted to find it, to be sure, we can there find it written "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature, he that believeth, and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned." But to whom was this said to every man of ever generation, who might start out of himself, or be sent out by other? no, but very far from this to men who were called and chosen of God for this purpose, and called by name too, so that there could be no mistake about the manner. These men in this commission, were required to go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature; but none others: it was they and they only, whose names were there mentioned, who had to perform this duty, or see that it was performed, and none others were bound by it.
Let us suppose for instance that some of the other Jews, or Gentiles, or even some of the saints, had taken it into their heads in the days of the apostles to have acted on this commission; could they have done it? I answer they could not; there would not one solitary sign have followed them, it would
have been in vain for those who believed them to have undertaken to cast out devils, or to have spoken in other tongues, or to lay hands on the sick, with the idea of effecting any thing; and the reason would be that the persons who had administered unto them, were without power themselves, and a stream could not rise higher than its fountain; therefore, of necessity the persons administered to, would be without power also.
It was more than a windy business to execute this commission, it required power as well as wind; it required more than to go forth and be very ingenious, in proving to the people that they must be immersed for the remission of sins: the person who done that according to this commission, if he effected any good by it must have power, also to administer in the name of the Lord Jesus, not baptism only, but the Holy Spirit also.
The truth is, there were no persons on earth in the days of these apostles, nor have there been any since their day, who could not act upon their commission, it was peculiar to themselves; for instance, there were in the primitive church, not only apostles; but prophets, and evangelists, pastors, and teachers, and each of these orders had other respective works assigned unto them and each one must have a commission suited to his calling.
Out of these orders, it fell to the order of apostles, to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature: suppose the pastors, or teachers, had taken it into their heads to go and act upon the commission given to the apostles, could they have done it?—most assuredly they could not, and that because God had not called them to the work of apostles, and having not called them, he did not endow them with power, sufficient, and their attempt would have been vain; indeed it would have been worse than vain; for the apostles alone, God had given the power to act on a commission given to apostles.
To every candid reader of the new testament, it is very plain, that it required a power adapted to the nature of the commission, to enable any person, to act on a commission received from the most High, whether that commission required them to travel into all the world, or whether it did not; the power given would be according to the work required. If a man or a number of men, were required to act in the office of evangelists, they would receive power, accordingly: or if to act in the office of apostles; their power would be proportionate to the work assigned to them. So that each one might be able to perform the duties of his own office.
In the commission given immediately after the resurrection of the Savior, we have the work set forth which belonged to the office of apostles, and every person who acted under that commission, acted in the office of an apostle. Now to prepare men to act under this commission, required a great deal of teaching, as well as divine manifestation. It was impossible for the apostles to act under this commission, without revelations being given unto them directly from heaven, for their own direction, as well as the direction of those who believed on the savior through their word.
Let us inquire how it was that the apostles were enabled to fulfill this commission; enabled we say, for it has been the lot of few men to be able to perform the duties of the commission given to the twelve apostles, who were commissioned immediately after the resurrection of the Savior.
Let us inquire, what preparation was necessary to enable the apostles themselves to fulfill the duties of their office, and how it was that they became qualified to be apostles, agreeable to the commission given to them.
We are told that at a certain time the Savior inquired of the apostles to know what men said about him.—"Whom say men that I the son of man am?" they answered some say that you are Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the ancient prophets, by this we understand most clearly, that the miracles which he had wrought among the people, had failed to give them a true understanding of his character.
The highest notions which they entertained of him was, that he was a prophet, such as had been on earth before, with this exception probably, that some might have thoughts that he was one of the prophets who was raised from the dead. But it does not appear that there was any other thought of his being the Son of God: so that all his miracles had failed to give the peo-
ple a correct idea of his true character.
Neither do we think, that miracles could produce this effect alone: there must be something else: indeed if we are left to draw our inference from what follows, it will be seen, that there was but one thing that could give the idea that he was the Son of God, and that was a revelation from God. For the Savior again says to the apostles. "But whom do ye say that I the Son of man am." Peter answered and said, "thou art Christ the son of the living God." What was the answer the Savior made to his declaration? It was this. "Blessed art thou Simon Barjonah; for flesh and blood have not revealed this unto thee; but my Father which is in heaven:" as much as to say: it is not the miracles which I have wrought in your presence, neither the casting out devils, nor yet healing the sick; but a revelation from my Father who is in heaven.
If we are left to draw a conclusion from these premises, what would that conclusion be? would it not be that a knowledge of the Son of God, was not to be denied from the working of miracles? for if this could have been done, the disciples would have found it out, and it would not have been said as it was to Peter. "Flesh and blood have not revealed this to thee; but my Father which is in heaven." But on the contrary, it would have been said. "Blessed art thou Simon Barjonah for thou hast discovered my true character from the miracles which have wrought in your presence." R.
PERSECUTION OF OLD TIMES.
One great blessing the church of the Latter Day Saints enjoy above those of former ages, is, a knowledge of the persecution of olden times; For the which purpose we extract the 2d chapter from Fox's Martyrs.
FROM THE DEATH OF ST. JOHN, AND THE CONCLUSION OF THE APOSTOLIC AGE.
The malignant spirit of the Jews was ever predominant, and the apostles, as their Master before them, were on all occasions, and in every place where that spirit could shew itself, violently persecuted. The apostle Paul was by this means, driven from Antioch to Iconium; yet there were the apostles opposed by Jews and Gentiles, until they found it expedient to escape to Lycaonia. At Lystra, notwithstanding the partiality of the Gentiles for them, on account of curing the impotent man, the Jews to such a degree prevailed, that Paul was even stoned by them. This induced them for a time to remove to Derbe, though they afterwards visited both Lystra and Antioch, to confirm the disciples of Christ in the profession of the gospel. Though the apostle Paul received a divine intimation to extend his labors, in propagating the gospel into Macedonia, an insurrection was here stirred up, and both Paul and his adopted companion, Silas, were cast into prison. Here we have a very different account of this Gentile apostle's deliverance to that of Peter. The prison doors and the gates were not thrown open, as on that occasion, at least, though the doors were opened as an effect of the earthquake, they were not commanded to go out, and conducted thence by an angel, as in the other case. The providence of God had other ends to serve on the present occasion. Here was no escape, as on the former interposition. "We are all here; do thyself no harm," says Paul to the terrified jailor. Conversion followed this extraordinary scene. The jailor was convinced of their innocency, made profession of their faith, and "was baptized he and all his straightway." This advantage to the cause of the gospel was obtained by this short imprisonment, though the rulers, ashamed of their conduct, sent orders the next morning for their release; and at last, on Paul's asserting that they had grossly violated their privileges, he being a Roman citizen, with much submission they persuaded him to accept of a discharge.
Going to Lydda, and from thence to Thessalonica, the Jews, as usual, stirred up a commotion against them, so that Jason and others were obliged to enter into a recognizance to keep the peace. Escaping by night to Berea, the Jews of Thessalonica pursued him, and he was compelled to take a circuitous route to Athens. His dispute at Athens, and his being brought before the
the Areopagus, or chief court of Justice, is beside our purpose; but, proceeding to Corinth, the Jews manifested there their violence, and he henceforth associated with the Gentiles. During his stay here, for a year and six months, St. Philip is supposed to have suffered martyrdom in Phrygia. A change of deputy at Corinth encouraged the Jews to foment a disturbance against the Christians; but though Gallo did not punish their violence, he would not hearken to their idle accusations. The ruler of the synagogue, whose name was Sosthenes, perhaps the successor of Crispus, who had been baptized, and therefore removed, was equally favorable to the apostles, not withstanding the spleen of the Gentiles; and the new deputy was equally regardless of their proceedings. A respite from persecution was thereby obtained, which enabled Paul to remain there for some time longer.
From Corinth he passed to Cesarea, and thence to Antioch. At Ephesus, to which he came afterwards, a strong party, as in other places, opposed him, yet it only obliged him to change the scene of his labors, and in the public lecture—room of Tyrannus, to secure free admission of the Gentiles. The sons of a certain Jewish priest attempted indeed to imitate St. Paul's miracles there; but he paid rather dearly for his rash adventure, and this proved an occasion of many converts, and the destruction of great numbers of improper books. Yet a violent opposition was there raised on account of the goddess Diana, instigated by the silversmith Demetrius, which, with much difficulty the town—clerk appeased. In his passage through Macedonia and Greece, the Jews were there intent upon his destruction; but he left them and came to Troas where he performed a signal miracle upon a young man named Eutychus, by restoring him to life. When he came to Jerusalem, some of those who had opposed him at Ephesus, and other places, occasioned his being apprehended in the temple, and dragged violently out of it, until he was rescued by the Roman governor; though detained in custody for the purpose of identifying his person and character. The clamor of the Jews had nearly succeeded to occasion his being scourged; but "he demanded the privilege of a free—born Roman citizen, whom the laws protected against such a degrading punishment." [See the Author's History and Life of our Blessed Savior, Book, VIII. Chap. III. Pg. 399.] Though this powerful appeal stopped their present violence, on the following day he was brought forth to be examined; and, whilst he was defending himself in a way which must evidently criminate the Jews, the high-priest, with a view to silence him, commended those who stood near him to strike him on the mouth. "At such conduct he turns indignant. He calls him a whited wall, which, like a whited sepulchre, was fair without, but full of corruption within." Though, by an ingenious address, he divided his clamorous accusers, he was "retained in custody, with a guard of soldiers, to preserve him from the mischiefs of a tumult." Then the Jews conspired to kill him, on being brought to farther examination; but the chief captain caused him to be safely escorted by night on his way to Cesarea, and thus defeated their iniquitous design. Yet their persecution still continued. In five days after, the high priest and elders followed him thither to Felix the governor, bringing with them a fulsome advocate to blacken Paul, and cajole the governor by flattery and dissimulation; whilst Paul, in his reply, despised the arts of this hireling sycophant, and defied them to prove a single article of their glaring accusation. The governor was fully aware of the nature of the case, but wanted honesty to release him, and humanity to provide for his personal safety, pretending that he was desirous of the arrival of the chief captain, to be more fully acquainted with the true nature of his accusation. Yet every liberty was permitted which could possibly consist with safety and protection.
Curiosity was not then a stranger as on many occasions in our own times, to persons who sought only a momentary gratification. The governor's wife was a Jewess, and Paul was to be brought forward to be re-examined merely to satisfy and indulge this unmeaning propensity; and, on this occasion, Paul used a language which was far from being welcome or acceptable to the care of the governor. He was nevertheless detained a prisoner, though not very strictly, for two years, until a new governor had been appoint-
ed, merely as a gratification to the malicious Jews. On his going to Jerusalem, he had information of Paul's being a prisoner at Cesarea; and, on the governor's coming thither, he called Paul to an examination, to hear his defence against the insinuations of the Jews, and with a design of meeting their wishes. Festus had imbibed the poison of Paul's accusers, and proposed remitting him to the ecclesiastical powers at Jerusalem. Against this proposition Paul protested. He claimed the privilege of a Roman citizen, and was ready to submit to the civil authorities. He appealed from Cæsar's tribunal to Cæsar himself; and to this appeal the governor himself, however anxious to please the Jews, was obliged to pay obedience. In the long interval which followed before Paul could be sent to Rome, at least before he was sent, as a distinguished prisoner, he was exhibited as a spectacle to "Agrippa, who succeeded his father Herod Agrippa, who was grandson to Herod the Great, and had caused the martyrdom of James, and had come down to compliment Festus on his accession to the government of Judea." The king was convinced by Paul's energetic language, of his innocence; but this seemingly unlucky appeal, though it had rescued him from the Jews, now militated against his discharge. The appeal was recorded, and must be heard; but it effectually delivered him from the machinations of the Jews.
We have nothing to do with the untowardness of the voyage, after means had been adopted to send Paul to Rome; for this may be considered as incidental, rather than the effects of persecution, though it certainly was occasioned by persecution. Many providential acts, however, appear manifest in it; but we know very little of the result of this appeal and this voyage, only that he was detained at Rome, in the character of a prisoner of honor, for "two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him," after which, he was liberated from his confinement.—About the time of Paul's voyage, Mark was dragged to pieces by the people of Alexandria, at their great solemnity of Serapis their idol, ending his life under their merciless hands; and near the time of St. Paul's being shipwrecked at Melita, it is generally supposed that Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, being slain with a halbert.—But we have to notice the death of the apostle James, at Jerusalem, in the year preceding Paul's discharge out of custody, by a violent insurrection of the Jews, through which means he closed his life by martyrdom, in the interval between the death of the governor Festus and the succession of Albinus. About this time, also, the death of Matthias is generally placed by means of stoning, though we have less account of him than of most of the other apostles. On Paul's permission to depart from Rome, he is said to have travelled into Spain, and, as some think, though the reasons are not fully demonstrative, into Britain. He returned to Crete, and there fixed Titus as their bishop; and from that island he is supposed to have passed into Judea, and thence to Ephesus and Colosse, and back to Ephesus, before he passed into Macedonia to Philippi, to Nicopolis in Epirus, Corinth, Proas, Antioch, and Iconium, during which he appears to have endured many conflicts. (2 Tim III.11) Of his last visit to Rome, where he suffered martyrdom, we shall presently take notice; and in the mean time we have to remark that St. Peter did not settle at Rome till about four years before his death, and the time that St. Paul had returned to Crete from Spain. At this time he found Simon Magus, whom he had before defeated in Samaria, exercising his infernal arts and bewitching men's minds, so as to be had in great veneration by the Romans, and much in favor with the emperor. Defeated and opposed by Peter, the emperor was disgusted, and miditated [meditated] his destruction; and on that account principally the FIRST GENERAL PERSECUTION commenced, during which, the apostle St. Andrew, "after preaching in Scythia and Asia, and afterwards in Greece, was martyred in Achaia," by crucifixion, by command of the pro-consul.
In this persecution it is observed from Tacitus, that persons, who "made profession of this new religion were treated with all the instances of scorn and cruelty; that some were wrapped up in the skins of wild beasts, to be worried and devoured by dogs; others were crucified; others burnt alive, clad in paper coats smeared with pitch or wax, or some combustible matter; that
when day-light failed they might serve for torches and illuminations in the night." Even these spectacles were exhibited in the emperor's own gardens. Thus barbarously were the Christians treated at Rome; besides which similar edicts were issued against them through most of the provinces of the empire. In the list of martyrs of that period, we find the names of Teela, Torquel, Torquatus, and Marcelus, and many others; and there were martyrs also at Milan, and other places. Though Peter was more immediately the object of the emperor's rancour, he seems to have escaped the first violence of the storm. But on Paul's coming to Rome in the following year, both these apostles were cast into prison; the former on account of the emperor's hatred for his opposition to Simon Magus, and the latter for having converted one of his concubines.—They were confined in prison for eight or nine months; but they were at length condemned, and Peter as a Jew and a foreigner was ordered to be crucified, with his head downwards, at his own desire, and Paul as a Roman was on the same day beheaded about three miles without the city, but a few months before the death of the monster Nero.
The bishop of Antioch, Euodius, suffered martyrdom during the same year, as we are informed; but whether under Galba, Nero's successor, or the wicked Otho, whose two reigns scarcely exceeded ten months, is not altogether certain. But the miseries of the Jews, provoked by their rebellions, were productive of a breathing time for the Christians, who had escaped from Jerusalem at the commencement of the seige; but it afforded leisure to disaffected and ambitious spirits to hatch new opinions, and to propagate strange and heretical doctrines to the disturbance of those who professed the true Christian faith. It is foreign from our purpose here to state them; and that in the second year after the destruction of Jerusalem, the Christians, who had left it about six years before, returned thither with their bishop Simeon, the successor of James.—In this year, however, it is generally supposed, that St. Jude was put to death in Persia, where he had successfully preached Christ's gospel, for his free reproofs of the superstitious rites of their Magi, being shot to death with arrows; and Bartholomew also is now said to have been crucified at Albania, on the Caspian sea, for opposing their idolatry, by order of the governor of the city. It was also remarkable for the death of Barnabas, who is also generally considered to have terminated his life at Salamis, in his own country of Cyprus, at the instigation of the Jews, by stoning.
It was not until the following year that St. Thomas is commonly understood to have suffered martyrdom from the opposition of the Bramins of Parthia, in revenge for his having converted the prince of the country and many others. Accustomed to retire to a certain tomb near the city for devotion, they poured in upon him a shower of stones and darts, and one of his assailants afterwards advanced and ran him through with a lance. In the next year, or the fourth from the destruction of Jerusalem, "it is generally supposed, the evangelist Luke died; and the prevailing opinion is, that he was crucified in Greece on an olive-tree for want of a cross, by a party of infidels." Simon also is said to have been crucified by infidels in this year in Britain, after making many converts in various places. The reign of Titus, which followed that of Vespasian, unfortunately was but short; but his death was not without suspicion of poison from his brother and successor, Domitian. He was a good prince; yet, during his short reign of little more than two years, Linus, Bishop of Rome, successor to St. Peter or St. Paul, as bishops of the Jewish or Gentile converts, is now said to have suffered martyrdom, about five years after the death of St. Luke. The professors of the gospel lived peaceably for several years afterwards, excepting the disturbances which were fomented or occasioned by heretics, of whom indeed there was but too prolific a produce, though they were in some degree kept under by the vigilance of the apostle St. John.
When Domitian reigned about nine or ten years, it has been generally considered that he began to look with an unfavorable eye on the Christians, perhaps from a suspicion that they might be secretly disposed to support the insurrection of Lucius Antonius against him and his unpopular
government. But the second general persecution did not break out until the fourteenth or fifteenth year of that emperor's reign. When the bloody edicts were issued for that purpose, and numerous martyrdoms followed at Rome and other places. Antipas, in Pergamus, one of the seven churches of St. John's foundation, Rev. II.13, and Dionysius, first Bishop of Athens, Acts XVII:34 suffered many torments and death; and the emperor executed Flavius Clemens, the consul and his cousin—german, for embracing Christianity, and banished his wife and niece to different islands. In this persecution St. John was sent for to Rome and was there put into a cauldron of oil set on fire, from the effects of which he was miraculously preserved and had the honor of martyrdom with out the torments, or putting it in the power of man to deprive him of life.—Yet the stubborn emperor persevered in his enmity to this faithful servant of Christ, though his first design was defeated by a miracle, and banished him "to the desolate isle of Patmos, one of the islands of the modern Grecian archipelago, to dig in the mines," being the usual labor of persons banished thither for any crime against the state of its economy.
It was here that this aged apostle, instead of being compelled to the usual slavery, for which the advanced period of his life was so little adopted, was favored with various visions and revelations, by which he had a sufficient prospect of the future condition of the Christian religion. Of these we have an account in the comprehensive and important Book of Revelation, which he afterwards committed to writing; containing many truths, by which the humblest Christians may profit, without concerning themselves in the explanation of prophecies, to which their capacities on uncultivated faculties cannot possibly be commensurate. The accomplishment of some of them was then, as it were, commencing, especially those of the second and third chapters, describing the state of the 7 Asian churches for these would shortly come to pass or begin to be fulfilled, but their progress and final completion, those of the subsequent visions especially, in which many dreadful persecutions were predicted, would be protracted to far distant periods, as the long continuance of many of them so frequently repented most fully demonstrates. Though St. John despaired of life in this barren and desolate spot, his own liberation is first assured to him, that, aged as he was, he should "prophesy before many people, and nations, and tongues, and kings." (Rev. X.II.) In this year we have an account of the martyrdom of Mark, the first Bishop of Atlna in Latium, who is said to have been struck in the head with tenterhooks, of Fellcala, an illustrious woman of Rome, whose body was cast into a common sewer, and of Nicodemus, a presbyter of the same city, who was beaten to death. The emperor became intolerably jealous of every one; and Jews, as well as Christians, were persecuted as atheists and disowners of the gods. All the posterity of David were assiduously sought out, is marked for slaughter; which occasioned the apprehension of two grandchildren of the apostle St. Jude, the kinsman of our Lord, who, after interrogation and examination, were dismissed, on account of their meanness and simplicity, as beneath his jealousy. From this period he issued an edict for terminating the persecution, which had raged so violently.
The violent death which the emperor soon after suffered, by means of conspirators whom he himself had marked for destruction, gave a new face to the affairs of the Christians.—Both they and the dispersed Jews, who had either been banished from Rome and other cities during the last reign, to become voluntary exiles to escape his fury, were immediately recalled by his successor; and their confiscated property, as far as practicable, restored to them. Yet even in this mild reign, we are informed, that Timothy, Bishop of Ephesus, fell a martyr to the fury of the votaries of Diana, being so cruelly beaten with stones and clubs for opposing them in a festival—procession, that he expired in two days after. This is the same whom St. John (Rev. II.1.) calls the angel of the church of Ephesus. Soon after this, St. John no longer considering his continuance in Patmos to be necessary, from this happy change of the times, removed to Ephesus to his most intimate friends, and was prevailed upon, since they had lost Timothy, to take upon him the government of
church. In this situation he continued about three years, and at last "died in peace at the close of the century, being then little more or less than one hundred years of age." During this interval he had written his General Epistle, and the two shorter ones to individuals; and in a little time he undertook the task of writing his gospel, at the request of the Asian churches.—In his gospel he had a special eye to the heresies of Etion and Corinthus, following the argument, but more concisely, of his General Epistle. Nerva's mild reign was, nevertheless, a short one, into more than sixteen months; but his successor Trajan, though otherwise a good prince, was excessively zealous for Paganism and all its superstitions, insomuch that St. Clement, if we are to credit Metaphrastes, was banished from Rome in the first year of his reign to the mines in Taullea Chersonesu; for having converted Theodora, a noble Roman lady and others to the profession of the gospel. The rigidness of Trajan for Paganism gave occasion to his subjects to persecute Christians, though no edict was issued against them. Under the pretence of illegal societies, they were severally persecuted by governors and other officers, and great numbers of them suffered by means of popular tumults, and by laws and processes, under the notion of malefactors and traitors, and under an emperor fumed through the world for justice and moderation. This has been usually called the third general persecution; in which many martyrs suffered. Amongst these, we have an account of Cesarius, a deacon of Terracina, in Italy, and Zosimus, of Pisidia, in Asia; but particularly we must notice St. Clement, as just related, who made many converts in his exile, who was condemned to be thrown into the sea, with an anchor about his neck. But this storm of persecution happily never reached Ephesus, so that the venerable apostle St. John remained there until his death quietly and unmolested. And our account of his death, already stated as it closes the first century of the Christian era, terminates what may be called the apostolic age, and introduces us to their successors.
Died—In Clay Co. Mo. on the 21st of October last, Rachel Ranck, aged about 48 years.
TO THE SAINTS.
Beloved brethren and sister: You undoubtedly are well assured that this is the day and generation in which the prophecies are to be fulfilled, concerning the upbuilding of Zion, in which men are to be made partakers of the fulfilling of the covenants made with the fathers; consequently, of the glories that are to be brought unto the saints at the revelation of Jesus Christ. But remember that it is written. "After much tribulation, cometh the blessing," and that it is no where said, that we shall attain unto the unutterable blessings of the celestial kingdom, but through great tribulation. You who have and do keep the commandments of the Lord, (for it is to such that I now address myself) have great reason to rejoice, seeing you have already been brought to pass through many tribulations because of your faith in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, be not discouraged, neither cast down because of your distresses and great afflictions which you have to pass through, but rather count it a blessing, seeing that "we must, through great tribulation enter the kingdom." Acts, 14:22. Again, "knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts." Rom. 5:3,4. And we have been begotten again unto a lively hope which is sure and ste[a]dfast, through the manifestation of the truth shed forth upon us by the opening of the heavens, the ministering of angels, and by the raising up a prophet in these last days, by whom the word of God cometh unto us, which word maketh our hope the more lively because it teacheth us plainly that the time draweth nigh, when the things spoken of and hoped, by the former day saints, are to be made manifest in very deed; of which things we shall be made partakers, if we faint not.
I well remember the time when the first little branch of the church of Latter Day Saints removed from this place to the land of Zion; the place of that city of the living God, which was at that time pointed out by revelation.—And from that day to this, these, together with other branches which have since moved to the same place, have been suffering tribulations and afflic-
tions of various kinds. And why all this? You will answer me, because of iniquities! And you answer well, for so it is: you did not live perfect before God. But still, had you not believed in the words of the Lord, as given to us, you would not have been persecuted; therefore, you have been persecuted for righteousness' sake, or for Christ's sake. For, notwithstanding all your imperfections, you would not, in the midst of the most perilous circumstances, give up your hope, nor deny the revelations of Jesus Christ. You are well aware, that according to the prophets, perilous times await mankind, and great persecutions the saints that are not gathered. Therefore, much prayer is necessary, with great faith and diligence, that Zion may be redeemed and the way prepared for the salvation of the children of men, both spiritual and temporal: for it is written in the last chapter of Isaiah, "by fire and by sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many." But before all this, Zion must arise and become an ensign to the nations; and Gentiles shall come to her light, and kings to the brightness of her rising:" for it is again said by the same prophet, "For Zion's sake I will not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth." Again, "Come near ye nations to hear; hearken, ye people; let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth of it for the indignation of the Lord is upon all nations; for it is the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion."—Isaiah 34:1&8. This, the world of mankind are not aware of; neither will they be made sensible of it, though we warn them: for, while we behold the approaching storm, and distant thunders roll, and make preparations to stand in that evil day, men, mocking say, None of these things await us. Thus, blind deaf man will be overtaken as a thief in the night, and in an hour when he least expects it.
But I will adopt the words of the prophet who saith to the saints, "Be strong; fear not; behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense: he will come and save you. And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion, with songs of everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."—Isaiah 35:4&10.
THOMAS B. MARSH.
Kirtland Nov. 10, 1835.
Dear brother in the Lord:
On the 2d day of last June, we left this place on a mission to visit the churches in the eastern states. We passed through a corner of Pennsylvania into the state of New York; through New York into Massachusetts; from thence through a corner of New Hampshire into Maine.—We journeyed in that state as far east and north as Farmington, from thence we passed through the north part of New Hampshire into Vermont: thence south, the whole length of the state; thence through Mass. into Connecticut; and from thence through the state of New York back to this place. We travelled about two thousand miles: visited 2 churches in Pennsylvania; 11 in New York; 2 in Mass. 3 in N. H. four in Maine; five in Vermont; and one in Connecticut; (besides leaving others on the right hand and on the left unvisited,) These twenty six churches number about seven hundred lively members, besides some few that have a measure lost their faith by not being diligent in the cause of God. We can safely say, that we found the churches doing as well as we expected to find them. We held about fifty meetings and baptized three: although we baptized but few, yet we have reason to believe, that others were pricked to the heart, while hearing the word, although spoken in weakness, and had it been consistent for us to have tarried any considerable length of time, in some places, we might, in all probability, have baptized a number more. We trust that our brethren were strengthened by our labors among them. We are confident that many of them will overcome through faith; and inherit the blessings promised to the faithful: even those blessings which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man, which God hath prepared for them that love him and keep his commandments.
In the bonds of the new covenant
We remain your brethren,
Letter No. 12.
DEAR BROTHER IN THE LORD:—Yours of October last is before me, and, according as the Spirit of the Lord directs, so will I endeavor to answer.—I ask for wisdom, because I need it, and I hope you will pardon whatever I write amiss. Your last letter is very interesting, because you have begun to unfold a history which is not only highly important to the saints, but to the world. Before I begin to show my views upon the "precious things," of which you write, and which the Lord has sent forth for the salvation of man—for the gathering of Israel—and to prepare the earth for the glorious rest of a thousand years, I want to drop an idea or two about Cumorah. Yes, Cumorah which must become as famous among the latter day saints, as Sinai was among the former day saints.—The law of the Lord, by the hand of Moses, was received upon Sinai, for the benefit of Israel, before they entered the goodly land of Canaan, and before they were scattered and driven among all nations; and the fulness of the everlasting gospel, the history of the first settlers of America; even the book of Mormon, preparatory to gathering Israel from their long dispersion, came from Cumorah: Glorious spot!—sacred depository! out of thee came the glad tidings which will rejoice thousands! Israel must be restored to mercy; a holy people raised up unto God to possess the promised land, to bring the present unto the Lord of hosts, even to Mount Zion, as Isaiah foretold more than three thousand years ago.
Cumorah, the artificial hill of north America, is well calculated to stand in this generation, as a monument of marvelous works and wonders. Around that mount died millions of the Jaredites; yea, there ended one of the greatest nations of this earth. In that day, her inhabitants spread from sea to sea, and enjoyed national greatness and glory, nearly fifteen hundred years.—That people forsook the Lord and died in wickedness. There, too, fell the Nephites, after they had forgotten the Lord that bought them. There slept the records of age after age, for hundreds of years, even until the time of the Lord:—
"An angel came down from the regions of glory,
"And told that a record was hid in Cumorah,
"Containing the fulness of Jesus's gospel,
"And also the cov'nant to gather his people."
There began the church of Christ in 1830; yea, there the stone cut out of the mountain without hands as foretold by Daniel, commenced rolling to fill the earth, and may it continue, in a moral sense, in dreadful splendor, till it fills the whole, and wickedness is ended. So much for the Hill Cumorah.
Now to the second part of my subject. I said your letter was very interesting, and I conclude the saints will say so, too, when they read it. The instruction to Joseph, (one of the great men of God, inspired to move the cause of Zion with mighty power, and who is only persecuted by men who are not as good as he is, nor never can be unless they repent,) I mean the words of the angel to him, is great, when he exclaimed, "Why can I not obtain this book?" and the angel answered, "Because you have not kept the commandment of the Lord."—I think a specimen of heavenly reason was given, that will answer for the case of all men that fail to please God on earth, or that may lack the one thing needful to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The contrast between the powers of darkness, and the glories of light, is so plain that any person may see his own image! The allurements of the world—the enticements of wealth, and the hope of honor and fame, for our short age, without the Spirit of God to enlighten the mind, seems to overbalance the great prospect of eternal life, but when reason takes her place, wisdom directs, and the Lord commands,—all is right, all is fair, all is glorious, all is heaven, and all is for them that love and serve him faithfully to the end.
The message of the angel of our worthy brother in the Lord, Joseph Smith, jr. is of the greatest importance to mankind, not only in opening to their view an intercourse with the upper worlds, but in enabling them to understand the difference between the power of good, and the power of evil, in all cases, and in all places:
"And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not
be deceived, for satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations: wherefore he that prayeth whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me, if he obey mine ordinances: he that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek, and edifieth, the same is of God, if he obey mine ordinances. And again, he that trembleth under my power, shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise, and wisdom, according to the revelations, and truths which I have given you. And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me: wherefore by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases, under the whole heavens."
This pattern, given since the book of Mormon was translated, is in accordance with the doctrine, or advice, of the angel as set forth in your letter. I think much of this pattern; it gives the meek a chance to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling: It gives the servants of the Lord a clue to the mind of men; yea, it is a scale that measures professions, and gives a rule to find out the solid contents of the heart. I hope the saints will practice and improve by it.
All the mighty acts of the Lord, from the beginning till the last days, seem to rush into one's mind upon reading what the angel said at Cumorah: The blessing of father Jacob, when he said, "Gather yourselves together" my sons, and I will tell what "shall befall you in the last days"—I need not relate the whole of it, because it is presumed every one knows it, if he had read his bible half as much as many do their almanacks [almanacs]: but in the prophetic language of Balaam, "Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
The moment the book of Mormon came forth, I mean the plates of which the angel was speaking at Cumorah: the world began to be in commotion: and the lords upon whose arms the kings leaned for support, began to cry out "if the Lord would make windows in heaven." the thing might be so but we believe it is an imposition—blasphemy!—But the Lord has already made the wicked hosts of the world to "bear a noise of chariots, and a noise of horses, even the noise of a great host: and they said one to another, Lo, the king of Israel hath hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians, to come upon us."—2 Kings VII.6.
The finding of the plates, puts one in mind of the book of the law that Hilkiah found in the temple, while repairing it in the days of the king Josiah—and would to God that the rulers of our nation; yea, the ruler of all nations would do as that righteous man did, and go and inquire of the Lord, concerning the words of the book,—for great as the wrath of the Lord against them, and all people that repent not.
In those days the word of the Lord came through Shallum's wife, Huldah, the prophetess, who dwelt in the college at Jerusalem. Josiah sent five men: yea, principae men, of whom Hilkia, the priest was one, and they informed her what had happened, and communed with her on the subject, and she said unto them, "Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, tell the man that sent you unto me."
"Thus said the Lord, Behold, I will bring evil upon this place, and upon the inhabitants thereof, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah hath read: Because they have forsaken me, and have burnt incense unto other gods, that they might provoke me to anger with all the works of their lands; therefore my wrath shall be kindled against this place, and shall not be quenched.
"But to the king of Judah, which sent you to enquire of the Lord, thus shall ye say to him, Thus said the Lord God of Israel, As touching the words which thou has heard; Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation, and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the Lord. Behold therefore, I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shall be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place."
As soon as Josiah received the word of the Lord through Huldah, he sent and gathered the elders of Judah and Jerusalem; and the people of both
place—and priests, and prophets, and read to them the words of the book: He did not do like the chief men of the last days—cry a bible, a bible! false prophet!—no; no such language came from the wise man's mouth; he honored the book, and respected the prophecy of the woman, for the truth's sake: He feared the Lord and loved him, and immediately destroyed every appearance of evil. He brake down the houses of the Sodomites; he put down the idolatrous priests, and the priests that burnt incense to Baal, or, in other words, to the sun, and moon, and planets: Then he made a feast to the Lord, such as has not been made on so great an occasion since.
O that there was a ruler like him to honor God in these last days! To brake the altars of Baal! To purge the world of its adulterous priests, and false religion, that all men might come to the knowledge of the truth, as it came to Adam; as it came to Noah; as it came to Abraham; as it came to Jacob; as it came to Joseph; as it came to Moses; as it came to all the prophets before the Savior came in the flesh; as it came to his apostles on the eastern and western continents; as it came to Joseph Smith, jr. and it will come to inspired men while the world stands: for no one will ever get too much knowledge, too much grace, too much faith, or too much charity to save his soul in the celestial kingdom. No one can be too good to be saved, but many may be too bad. It is almost laughable to see how afraid some are of goodness. That book of Mormon seems to be so good, beware of it,—but when a lying novel, that is calculated to lead the mind of lightness and lechery, comes out—O never mind it, it cannot hurt any one. Wo unto that nation where no preference is made to virtue more than vice!
Our days seem as old times; After the servants of the Lord, hear his word, they can pray like Habakkuk: "Lord revive thy work in the midst of the years:" they can exclaim; in the midst of the years of this generation, make known: but O Lord, "in wrath remember mercy."
To look back to September, 1827, it may be likened unto the time when Elijah prayed for rain, and at the seventh time "Behold there arose a cloud out of the sea, like a man's hand," and there followed much rain: so likewise since then, the church of Latter Day Saints, in comparison no bigger than "a man's hand," has spread over a large country, and by the power of the Lord, is beginning to sprinkle in token of a plentiful rain of grace for the salvation of all that are thirsty.
Any one that reflects upon the scene, described in your letter, may imagine how Elijah felt when he stood on the mount before the Lord, and the Lord passed by—and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke to pieces the rocks; but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire, a still small voice, and when Elijah heard it he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went and stood in the door of the cave, for the Lord had spoken: so can the candid reason, that in the wind of doctrines that have prevailed for some time; behold the Lord is not there; that in the earthquakes of eloquence that have made the pulpits ring for years back, the Lord is not there; that in the fiery zeal of one sect against another, the Lord is not there, but when the angel spake at Cumorah Behold the Lord was nigh, even the Lord with a recompense: and he will soon come with burning coals at his feet, and scatter the everlasting mountains; and walk through the heap of great waters, to the joy and deliverance of all his saints. But I must close for the present.
W. W. PHELPS.
To OLIVER COWDERY.
Kirtland, Ohio, Nov. 18, 1835.
Sometime the last of Oct. I left Kirtland, and travelled about 100 miles south east until I came to Beaver Co. Pa. There I held 16 meetings, two in the village of Fallstone, 3 in the village of Beaver, 4 in the village of Bridgewater, and 7 in the village of Freedom: in these villages I found many who were willing to listen to the word of life, and also many who were exceedingly opposed, but more especially the priests of Baal, and their followers. I was encountered by two
Methodist priests, and one of their class leaders, and also by Doct. Winters, who had been a Baptist priest, but his character and standing in society, I was informed, was considerably below par; but their opposition only showed the weakness of their system established the faith of some, while others were stirred up to investigate. Thus truth loses nothing by opposition, for notwithstanding the tongue of the slanderer is loosed, falsehoods circulated to the four winds, the cry of blasphemy heard among all the sects, yet, truth, remains truth still, though the prince of darkness may rage; his subjects use all their crafty inventions, yet all their efforts will be in vain, for truth is from heaven; its glory is unsullied: its light is eternal, and will shine though all their engines of wickedness may be put in operation against it. Its light cannot be quenched; its progress cannot be stayed, while it is apparently smothered in one place, it will shine forth with increased brilliancy in another. I baptized three in Freedom, one of which (Sampson Avard) I ordained an elder, he formerly had belonged to the Campbellites, and had preached among them. After parting with two books of Mormon; four books of Revelations, and obtaining 14 subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate, I left them with elder Avard to continue the work. There is a prospect of many embracing the gospel in those parts: May the Lord bless elder Avard and send some one of his servants to assist him.
I remain your friend and Brother,
JOHN WHITMER Esq.
We hereby notify our patrons, that we desire them to be particular, in giving us information respecting subscriptions being changed from place to place, as many are moving: and give us their former residence, or names of office, to which their papers were directed, as well as the place to which they desire them directed. A failure of attending to this notice must be at your expense, and not ours.
Extracts of letters
Extract of a letter, dated Lewiston, Ill. Nov. 2, 1835.
Br. J. WHITMER,
I have been laboring for the three last months, in Fulton, Scuyler, and Adams counties. I baptized one in Fulton: and in company with elder C. Rich I have baptized five on Crooked Creek. In Adams and Scuyler counties there is an effectual door open for preaching.
Extract of a letter, dated Farmington Center, Me. Nov. 2, 1835.
Br. J. WHITMER
My labors have been blessed in some measure, the past season. I have baptized six and have been a partner in baptizing seven others, since the 13th of July. In many places, where I have labored, the work seems to be progressing. There is a prospect of more being added to the church.
S. B. STODDARD.
Come all ye sons of Zion,
And let us praise the Lord:
His ransom'd are returning,
According to his word.
In sacred songs, and gladness,
They walk the narrow way,
And thank the Lord who bro't them
To see the latter day.
Come, ye dispers'd of Judah,
Join in the theme, and sing
With harmony unceasing,
The praises of your King
Whose arm is now extended
(On which the world may gaze)
To gather up the righteous,
In these, the latter days.
Rejoice, rejoice, O Israel!
And let your joys abound:
The voice of God shall reach you;
Wherever you are found:
And call you back from bondage,
That you may sing his praise
In Zion and Jerusalem
In these, the latter days.
Then gather up for Zion,
Ye saints, throughout the land,
And clear the way before you,
As God shall give command:
Tho' wicked men and devils
Exert their pow'r, 'tis vain,
Since him who is eternal
Has said you shall obtain.
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