Kirtland to Be a Stake of Zion—Regulation of Church Affairs in Missouri.
The School of the Prophets.
March 18.—Great joy and satisfaction continually beamed in the countenances of the School of the Prophets, and the Saints, on account of the things revealed, and our progress in the knowledge of God. The High Priests assembled in the school room of the Prophets, and were organized according to revelation; prayer by Sidney Rigdon.
Rigdon and Williams Ordained Presidents.
“Doctor” Hurlburt was ordained an Elder; after which Elder Rigdon expressed a desire that himself and Brother Frederick G. Williams should be ordained to the offices to which they had been called, viz., those of Presidents of the High Priesthood, and to be equal in holding the keys of the kingdom with Brother Joseph Smith, Jun., according to the revelation given on the 8th of March, 1833. Accordingly I laid my hands on Brothers Sidney and Frederick, and ordained them to take part with me in holding the keys of this last kingdom, and to assist in the Presidency of the High Priesthood, as my Counselors; after which I exhorted the brethren to faithfulness and diligence in keeping the commandments of God, and gave much instruction for the benefit of the Saints, with a promise that the pure in heart should see a heavenly vision; and after remaining a short time in secret prayer, the promise was verified; for many present had the eyes of their understanding opened by the Spirit of God, so as to behold many things. I then blessed the bread and wine, and distributed a portion to each. Many of the brethren saw a heavenly vision of the Savior, and concourses of angels, and many other things, of which each one has a record of what he saw.
Kirtland a Stake of Zion.
March 23.—A council was called for the purpose of appointing a committee to purchase land in Kirtland, upon which the Saints might build a Stake of Zion. Brother Joseph Coe and Moses Dailey were appointed to ascertain the terms of sale of certain farms; and Brother Ezra Thayre to ascertain the price of Peter French’s farm. The brethren agreed to continue in prayer and fasting for the ultimate success of their mission. After an absence of about three hours Brothers Coe and Dailey returned and reported that Elijah Smith’s farm could be obtained for four thousand dollars; and Mr. Morley’s for twenty-one hundred; and Brother Thayre reported that Peter French would sell his farm for five thousand dollars. The council decided to purchase the farms, and appointed Ezra Thayre and Joseph Coe to superintend the purchase; and they were ordained under the hands of Sidney Rigdon, and set apart as general agents of the Church for that purpose.
Matters Relating to Church Government in Zion Settled.
On the 26th of March a council of High Priests, twenty-one in number, convened for the general welfare of the Church, in what was then called Zion, in Jackson county, Missouri. On account of a revelation, my letter, and an epistle from the Church in Kirtland, a solemn assembly had been called, and a sincere and humble repentance manifested, insomuch that on the 26th of February, one month previous, a general epistle had been written in conference, which was satisfactory to the Presidency and Church at Kirtland. At the sitting of the council of the 26th of March, according to the plan taught at the solemn assembly, which was, that the seven High Priests who were sent from Kirtland to build up Zion, viz.—Oliver Cowdery, W. W. Phelps, John Whitmer, Algeron Sidney Gilbert, Bishop Partridge and his two counselors—should stand at the head of affairs relating to the Church, in that section of the Lord’s vineyard; and these seven men, with the common consent of the branches comprising the Church were to appoint presiding Elders, to take the watchcare of the several branches, as they were appointed: Now, therefore, as many of the High Priests and Elders—whose calling was to travel and preach to the world—went up to Zion, and commenced regulating and setting the branches in order, and claiming for themselves as much power by the authority of their Priesthood, and gift of the Holy Ghost, as those set apart and appointed to preside over the branches, it became necessary to call the council now spoken of, to set in order the Elders of Israel. After a long discussion, it was decided from the revelations, that the order taught in the solemn assembly was correct; and that the Elders, when they arrived at Zion, were bound by the authorities set in the Church, to be submissive to the powers that be; their labors and calling being more particularly to push the people together from the ends of the earth to the places the Lord had appointed. This decision in council gave general satisfaction, and the Elders soon saw the beauty of every man standing in his place.
Purchase of the French Farm.
April 2.—F. G. Williams was appointed by a council of High Priests, an agent to superintend and employ men to labor in the brick-yard on the French farm, also to rent the farm. The French farm was purchased on account of the facilities found there for making brick, which was essential to the building up of the city. The council also instructed Brother Ezra Thayre to purchase the tannery of Arnold Mason, in Kirtland.
Conference in Zion.
On the 6th of April, in the land of Zion, about eighty officials, together with some unofficial members of the Church, met for instruction and the service of God, at the Ferry on Big Blue river near the western limits of Jackson county, which is the boundary line of the state of Missouri and also of the United States. It was an early spring, and the leaves and blossoms enlivened and gratified the soul of man like a glimpse of Paradise. The day was spent in a very agreeable manner, in giving and receiving knowledge which appertained to this last kingdom—it being just 1800 years since the Savior laid down His life that men might have everlasting life, and only three years since the Church had come out of the wilderness, preparatory for the last dispensation. The Saints had great reason to rejoice: they thought upon the time when this world came into existence, and the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; they thought of the time when Israel ate the “Passover,” as wailing came up for the loss of the firstborn of Egypt; they felt like the shepherds who watched their flocks by night, when the angelic choir sweetly sang the electrifying strain, “Peace on earth, good will to man;” and the solemnities of eternity rested upon them. This was the first attempt made by the Church to celebrate the anniversary of her birthday, and those who professed not our faith talked about it as a strange thing.
The State of the World.
While the Church was thus rejoicing, the news from abroad was, that 30,000 out of a population of 100,000 had died of starvation, in consequence of the famine produced by three year’s drouth, followed by a flood, in the Cape Verde Islands; that sixteen shocks of earthquake had been felt the previous February, at St. Kitts and Nevis, in the West Indian Islands; that the Polish Jews were about to visit Jerusalem; that war was raging between Turkey and Egypt; that a great fire had occurred in Liverpool; that volcanic eruptions, wars and rumors of wars, were prevailing in different sections of the earth, and fire-balls and fearful signs were seen in the heavens, with many other alarming appearances, which caused the hearts of the wicked to tremble, none of which was more awful than the continued spread of the Asiatic cholera in Europe, which had already swept from the earth, in the short space of fifteen years, about sixty millions of inhabitants. 1
Brother Jared Carter presented me a letter, which he had received from his brother, and requested me to answer it, which I did as follows:
Kirtland, April 13, 1833.
Dear Brother Carter:—Your letter to Brother Jared is just put into my hand, and I have carefully perused its contents, and embrace this opportunity to answer it. We proceed to answer your questions: first concerning your labor in the region where you live; we acquiesce in your feelings on this subject until the mouth of the Lord shall name. Respecting the vision you speak of we do not consider ourselves bound to receive any revelation from any one man or woman without his being legally constituted and ordained to that authority, and giving sufficient proof of it.
I will inform you that it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any one, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves; therefore you will see the inpropriety of giving heed to them; but if any person have a vision or a visitation from a heavenly messenger, it must be for his own benefit and instruction; for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church are vested in the keys of the kingdom. Respecting an apostate, or one who has been cut off from the Church, and who wishes to come in again, the law of our Church expressly says that such shall repent, and be baptized, and be admitted as at the first.
The duty of a High Priest is to administer in spiritual and holy things, and to hold communion with God; but not to exercise monarchial government, or to appoint meetings for the Elders without their consent. And again, it is the High Priests’ duty to be better qualified to teach principles and doctrines, than the Elders; for the office of Elder is an appendage to the High Priesthood, and it concentrates and centers in one. And again, the process of laboring with members: We are to deal with them precisely as the Scriptures direct. If thy brother trespass against thee, take him between him and thee alone; and, if he make thee satisfaction, thou hast saved thy brother; and if not, proceed to take another with thee, etc., and when there is no Bishop, they are to be tried by the voice of the Church; and if an Elder, or a High Priest be present, he is to take the lead in managing the business; but if not, such as have the highest authority should preside.
With respect to preparing to go to Zion:—First it would be pleasing to the Lord that the church or churches going to Zion should be organized, and a suitable person appointed who is well acquainted with the condition of the church, and he be sent to Kirtland to inform the Bishop, and procure a license from him agreeable to the revelation: by so doing you will prevent confusion and disorder, and escape many difficulties that attend an unorganized band in journeying in the last days.
And again, those in debt, should in all cases pay their debts; and the rich are in no wise to cast out the poor, or leave them behind, for it is said that the poor shall inherit the earth.
You quoted a passage in Jeremiah, with regard to journeying to Zion; the word of the Lord stands sure, so let it be done.
There are two paragraphs in your letter which I do not commend, a they were written blindly. Speaking of the Elders being sent like lightning from the bow of Judah; the second, no secrets in the councils of Zion. You mention these as if fear rested upon your mind, otherwise we cannot understand it. And again we never inquire at the hand of God for special revelation only in case of there being no previous revelation to suit the case; and that in a council of High Priests.
For further information on the subject about which you have written, I will refer you to the Elders who have recently left here for the east, by commandment, some of whom you will probably see soon. You may depend on any information you may receive from them that are faithful. You may expect to see Brothers Orson Pratt and Lyman E. Johnson for whom we have great fellowship.
It is a great thing to inquire at the hands of God, or to come into His presence; and we feel fearful to approach Him on subjects that are of little or no consequence, to satisfy the queries of individuals, especially about things the knowledge of which men ought to obtain in all sincerity, before God, for themselves, in humility by the prayer of faith; and more especially a Teacher or a High Priest in the Church. I speak these things not by way of reproach, but by way of instruction; and I speak as if acquainted with you, whereas we are strangers to each other in the flesh.
I love your soul, and the souls of the children of men, and pray and do all I can for the salvation of all.
I now close by sending you a salutation of peace in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
The blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be and abide with you all. Amen.
Joseph Smith, Jun.
P. S.—If it be convenient to send a delegate to Kirtland, to procure license for the brethren to go to Zion, it can be done by two or more Elders. We have received two letters from Brother Sherwood, stating the order and condition of the Church, and respecting the vision of his wife, but on account of a multitude of business they have not been answered by us; you will please read this letter to Brother Sherwood.
In April the School of the Prophets closed to commence again in the fall.
A Letter to the Brethren in Zion.
Kirtland, April 21, 1833.
Dear Brethren in Zion, Agreeable to a notice we gave you, in Brother Whitney’s last letter to you with respect to answering your letters, we now commence, after giving thanks to our Heavenly Father for every expression of His goodness in preserving our unprofitable lives to the present time, and for the health and other blessings which we now enjoy through His mercies.
With joy we received your general epistle, written the 26th of February, which contained the confession of our brethren concerned, all of which was to our entire satisfaction.
It was read by the brethren in Kirtland with feelings of the deepest interest, knowing as we did, that the anger of the Lord was kindled against you, and nothing but repentance, of the greatest humility, would turn it away; and I will assure you that expressions of joy beamed on every countenance when they saw that our epistle and the revelation had been received by our brethren in Zion, and had had the desired effect.
For your satisfaction, I here insert a revelation given to Shederlaomach (Frederick G. Williams), the 15th of March, 1833, constituting him a member of the United Firm. 2
With respect to Brother Gilbert’s letter of the 10th of December, I would say to him: firstly, he wrote it in all sincerity of heart, and we were pleased with the style, and composition; but upon mature reflection, and inquiry at the hands of the Lord, we find some things that are unreconcilable, especially to some; I mean with respect to hints given that are not clearly explained.
As every letter that comes from Zion must go the rounds of the brethren for inspection, it is necessary that there should be no disguise in them, but that every subject written upon by the brethren should be plain to the understanding of all, that no jealousy may be raised, and when we rebuke, do it in all meekness. The letter written the 24th of February was not written in that contrition of heart in which it should have been, for it appears to have been written in too much of a spirit of justification; but the letter to Brother Whitney of the 20th of March, was written to our entire satisfaction.
Now I would say to Brother Gilbert, that I do not write this by way of chastisement, but to show him the absolute necessity of having all his communications written in a manner to be clearly understood. We are well aware of the great care upon his mind, in consequence of much business, but he must put his trust in God, and he may rest assured that he has our prayers day and night, that he may have strength to overcome every difficulty. We have learned of the Lord that it is his duty to assist all the poor brethren that are pure in heart, and that he has done wrong in withholding credit from them, as they must have assistance; and the Lord established him in Zion for that express purpose.
It is not the will of the Lord to print any of the New Translation in the Star; but when it is published, it will all go to the world together, in a volume by itself; and the New Testament and the Book of Mormon will be printed together.
With respect to Brother Oliver’s private letter to me on the subject of giving deeds, and receiving contributions from brethren, I have nothing further to say on the subject than to recommend that you make yourselves acquainted with the commandments of the Lord, and the laws of the state, and govern yourselves accordingly. Brother Elliot was here yesterday and showed me a letter from Brother Phelps, and we were well pleased with the spirit in which it was written. The probability is that he [Elliot] will not go to Zion at present, as he has bought [lands] in Chagrin.
We rejoice to hear that the Seminary lands are reduced in price, and are coming into market; and be assured that we shall use our influence to send brethren to Zion who are able to help you in the purchase of lands.
We have just received a letter from Brother Sidney, he has built up a church of eight members, in Medina county, Ohio, and has prospects of more. With respect to the deaths in Zion, we feel to mourn with those that mourn, but remember that the God of all the earth will do right. And now, my beloved brethren, I commend you to God and His grace, praying Him to keep and preserve you blameless, of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Joseph Smith, Jun.
P. S.—Say to Brother Corrill that his confession gave me great satisfaction, and all things are now settled on my part.
First Assembling of the Mob in Zion.
In the month of April, the first regular mob rushed together, in Independence, to consult upon a plan, for the removal, or immediate destruction, of the Church in Jackson county. The number of the mob was about three hundred. A few of the first Elders met in secret, and prayed to Him who said to the wind, “Be still,” to frustrate them in their wicked designs. The mob, therefore, after spending the day in a fruitless endeavor to unite upon a general scheme for “moving the Mormons out of their diggings” (as they asserted), became a little the worse for liquor and broke up in a regular Missouri “row,” showing a determined resolution that every man would “carry his own head.”
Conference of High Priests in Kirtland.
April 30.—A conference of High Priests assembled at the school room, in Kirtland, and appointed Brother Albert Brown a committee to circulate a subscription, to procure money to pay for the use of the house where meetings had been held the past season. John P. Greene was instructed to go and take charge of the branch of the Church in Parkham county, carrying with him an epistle to the brethren; and as soon as convenient he was to remove his family to that place. It was also decided that Sister Vienna Jaques should not proceed immediately on her journey to Zion, but wait until William Hobert was ready, and go in company with him.
Another Conference of High Priests.
May 4.—A conference of High Priests assembled in Kirtland, to take into consideration the necessity of building a school house, for the accommodation of the Elders, who should come together to receive instruction preparatory for their missions, and ministry, according to a revelation on that subject, given March 8, 1833, 3 and by unanimous voice of the conference; Hyrum Smith, Jared Carter, and Reynolds Cahoon were appointed a committee to obtain subscriptions, for the purpose of erecting such a building.
Council Proceedings Approved.
A council had previously been held in Norton Township, Medina county, Ohio, at which Sidney Rigdon presided. The council took into consideration the standing of Baldwin Welton, Aaron Smith, and——Hays, Elders; and James Braden, Priest; and decided that their ordinations were illegal, and that the churches should not receive them in their several offices. The doings of the council were reviewed, and sanctioned by the First Presidency, viz: Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and entered on record in Kirtland.
May 6.—I received the following:
1. Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am:
2. And that I am the true light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;
3. And that I am in the Father, and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one—
4. The Father because he gave me of his fulness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men.
5. I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest.
6. And John saw and bore record of the fulness of my glory, and the fulness of John’s record is hereafter to be revealed.
7. And he bore record, saying: I saw his glory, that he was in the beginning, before the world was;
8. Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation—
9. The light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.
10. The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him.
11. And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
12. And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
13. And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
14. And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
15. And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
16. And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
17. And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
18. And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.
19. I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20. For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
21. And now, verily I say unto you, I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn;
22. And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn.
23. Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;
24. And Truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25. And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
26. The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
27. And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
29. Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
30. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.
31. Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light.
32. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation.
33. For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34. And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
35. The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.
36. The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
37. Light and truth forsake that evil one.
38. Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
39. And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.
40. But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth.
41. But verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation;
42. You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction.
43. And now a commandment I give unto you—if you will be delivered you shall set in order your own house, for there are many things that are not right in your house.
44. Verily, I say unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, that in some things he hath not kept the commandments concerning his children; therefore, first set in order thy house.
45. Verily, I say unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., or in other words, I will call you friends, for you are my friends, and ye shall have an inheritance with me—
46. I called you servants for the world’s sake, and ye are their servants for my sake—
47. And now, verily I say unto Joseph Smith, Jun.—You have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord;
48. Your family must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings, or be removed out of their place.
49. What I say unto one I say unto all; pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.
50. My servant Newel K. Whitney also, a bishop of my church, hath need to be chastened, and set in order his family, and see that they are more diligent and concerned at home, and pray always, or they shall be removed out of their place.
51. Now, I say unto you, my friends, let my servant Sidney Rigdon go on his journey, and make haste, and also proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the gospel of salvation, as I shall give him utterance; and by your prayer of faith with one consent I will uphold him.
52. And let my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Frederick G. Williams make haste also, and it shall be given them even according to the prayer of faith; and inasmuch as you keep my sayings you shall not be confounded in this world, nor in the world to come.
53. And, verily I say unto you, that it is my will that you should hasten to translate my scriptures, and to obtain a knowledge of history, and of countries, and of kingdoms, of laws of God and man, this for the salvation of Zion. Amen.
The same date (May 6th) I received the following:
1. And again, verily I say unto you, my friends, a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall commence a work of laying out and preparing a beginning and foundation of the city of the stake of Zion, here in the land of Kirtland, beginning at my house.
2. And behold, it must be done according to the pattern which I have given unto you.
3. And let the first lot on the south be consecrated unto me for the building of a house for the presidency, for the work of the presidency, in obtaining revelations; and for the work of the ministry of the presidency, in all things pertaining to the church and kingdom.
4. Verily I say unto you, that it shall be built fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the width thereof and in the length thereof, in the inner court.
5. And there shall be a lower court and a higher court, according to the pattern which shall be given unto you hereafter.
6. And it shall be dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, according to the order of the priesthood, according to the pattern which shall be given unto you hereafter.
7. And it shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord for the work of the presidency.
8. And ye shall not suffer any unclean thing to come in unto it; and my glory shall be there, and my presence shall be there.
9. But if there shall come into it any unclean thing my glory, shall not be there; and my presence shall not come into it.
10. And again, verily I say unto you, the second lot on the south shall be dedicated unto me for the building of a house unto me, for the work of the printing of the translation of my scriptures, and all things whatsoever I shall command you.
11. And it shall be fifty-five by sixty-five feet in the width thereof and the length thereof, in the inner court; and there shall be a lower and a higher court.
12. And this house shall be wholly dedicated unto the Lord from the foundation thereof, for the work of the printing, in all things whatsoever I shall command you, to be holy, undefiled, according to the pattern in all things as it shall be given unto you.
13. And on the third lot shall my servant Hyrum Smith receive his inheritance.
14. And on the first and second lots on the north shall my servants Reynolds Cahoon and Jared Carter receive their inheritances—
15. That they may do the work which I have appointed unto them, to be a committee to build mine houses, according to the commandment, which I, the Lord God, have given unto you.
16. These two houses are not to be built until I give unto you a commandment concerning them.
17. And now I give unto you no more at this time. Amen.
Signs of the Times.
The signs of the times continued to attract the attention of the world. The cholera had broken out at Havana, and it was reported that five hundred were perishing daily, and Oporto, in the province of Entre-Minho-e-Douro, Portugal, was experiencing the same calamity. The influenza was raging at St. Petersburg, Russia; more than one hundred thousand were suffering from its effects, and it was reported to be more violent at Moscow. So dreadful were the effects of the cholera, which spread consternation among the inhabitants of the earth, that it was reported that the eyes of some of the afflicted burst from their sockets.
Removal of Indians.
A treaty was entered into about this time with several tribes of Indians, some to be located on the east of Winnebago lake, and others to be removed west of the Mississippi. 6
Arrival of the Prophet’s Relatives in Kirtland.
May 25.—My uncle, John Smith and family arrived in Kirtland, from Potsdam, New York, my uncle being an Elder in the Church; and his wife and eldest son, George Albert Smith, a lad of fifteen, were members. They were the first of my father’s relatives who obeyed the Gospel. 7
Chapter 24 – Notes
4. D&C 93.
5. D&C 94.