Volume 1 Chapter 20 | BYU Studies

Volume 1 Chapter 20

Chapter 20

"The Evening and Morning Star."

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Occupation of the Prophet, Summer of 1832.

As soon as I could arrange my affairs, I recommenced the translation of the Scriptures, and thus I spent most of the summer. In July, we received the first number of The Evening and Morning Star, which was a joyous treat to the Saints. Delightful, indeed, was it to contemplate that the little band of brethren had become so large, and grown so strong, in so short a time as to be able to issue a paper of their own, which contained not only some of the revelations, but other information also,—which would gratify and enlighten the humble inquirer after truth.

Opposition of the Press.

So embittered was the public mind against the truth, that the press universally had been arrayed against us; and although many newspapers published the prospectus of our paper, yet it appeared to have been done more to calumniate the editor, than give publicity to the forthcoming periodical. Editors thought to do us harm, while the Saints rejoiced that they could do nothing against the truth but for it.

The following are extracts from The Evening and Morning Star, Independence, Missouri, June, 1832—first number:

To Man.

With the help of God, the first number of The Evening and Morning Star comes to the world for the objects specified in its prospectus, which was published last winter. That we should now recapitulate some of its leading objects, and briefly add a few remarks, will naturally be expected; and we cheerfully do so, that this generation may know—

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That the Star comes in these last days as the friend of man, to persuade him to turn to God and live, before the great and terrible day of the Lord sweeps the earth of its wickedness;

That it comes not only as the messenger of truth, to bring the revelations and commandments of God which have been, but to publish those that God gives now, as in the days of old, for He is the same God yesterday, today, and for ever; * * * *

That it comes as the harbinger of peace and good will to them that serve the Lord with a determination to have part in the first resurrection, and finally become Kings and Priests to God the Father in the celestial kingdom, where God and Christ are, and where they will be for eternity; * * * * * *

That it comes according to the will of God from those who are not ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ, and walk lowly in the valley of humiliation, and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon them: knowing that the great day of the Lord will soon usher in the Sabbath of creation, for the rest of the Saints, that the Savior may reign His thousand years of peace upon the earth while Satan is bound;

That is comes in meekness and mercy to all mankind, that they may do works meet for repentance and be saved in the first resurrection, and afterwards dwell with the spirits of just men made perfect in the celestial kingdom;

That it comes to bring good tidings of great joy to all people, but more especially to the house of Israel scattered abroad, that the day of their redemption is near, for the Lord hath set His hand again the second time to restore them to the lands of their inheritance;

That it comes to show that the ensign is now set up unto which all nations shall come, and worship the Lord, the God of Jacob, acceptably;

That it comes when war, and the plague, or pestilence as it is called, are sweeping their thousands and tens of thousands to the grave, to show that the day of tribulation spoken of by our Savior is nigh at hand, even at the doors;

That it comes to repeat the great caution of Paul: Beware lest any man spoil you (the disciples of Christ), through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men and the rudiments of the world;

That it comes to prepare the way of the Lord, that when He comes He may have a holy people ready to receive Him;

That it comes to show that no man can be too good to be saved, but that many may be too bad:

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That it comes to declare that goodness consists in doing good, not merely in preaching it;

That it comes to show that all men's religion is vain without charity;

That it comes to open the way for Zion to rise and put on her beautiful garments and become the glory of the earth, that her land may be joined, or married (according to the known translation of Isaiah) to Jerusalem again, and they be one as they were in the days of Peleg.

* * * * * *

Man, being created but little below the angels, only wants to know for himself, and not by another, that, by obeying the commands of his Creator, he can rise again after death, in the flesh, and reign with Christ a thousand years on the earth without sin; be changed in the twinkling of an eye, and become a King and Priest to God in eternity—to forsake his sins, and say: Lord, I am thine! The first words of which we have any account that Jesus Christ spake concerning the things of eternal life, were, Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he was baptized: and truly, if it became the Savior of the world, holy as He was, to be baptized in the meridian of time, to fulfil all righteousness, how much more necessary it is for man to be baptized in order to be saved. * * *

As this paper is devoted to the great concerns of eternal things and the gathering of the Saints, it will leave politics, the gainsaying of the world, and many other matters, for their proper channels, endeavoring by all means to set an example before the world, which, when followed, will lead our fellow men to the gates of glory, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary will find rest. That there may be errors both in us and in the paper, we readily admit, but we mean to grow better, till from little children, we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, which we pray may be the happy lot of thousands, before He comes with the hundred and forty and four thousand that are without guile. 1

To the Church of Christ Abroad in the Earth.

It is the duty of the Church of Christ, to Zion, to stand as an ensign to all nations, that the Lord has set His hand the second time to restore the house of Israel to the lands of their inheritance; and it behooves the members of this Church to manifest before the world by a godly walk, by a noble example, as well as by sterling precept; by prudence in living, by plainness in dress, by industry, by economy, by faith and works, and, above all, by solemnity, humility and patience, that this is a day of warning and not a day of many words.

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This being the order in Zion, how much more necessary is it, that the churches of Christ, which have not yet come up to this land should show the world, by well ordered conduct in all things, that they are the children of the living God! It is all-important, and the salvation of many souls depends upon their faultless example. They will, therefore, knowing that the Lord will suddenly come to His temple, do their part in preparing the way, by observing the Sabbath day, and keeping it holy; by teaching their children the Gospel, and teaching them to pray; by avoiding extremes in all matters; by shunning every appearance of evil; by studying to be approved, and doing unto others as they would have others do unto them; by bearing trouble and persecution patiently, without a murmur, knowing that Michael, the Arch-angel, when contending with the devil—he disputed about the body of Moses—durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. They will not only set an example worthy of imitation, but they will let their light so shine that others, seeing their good works, may go and do likewise. Example is the great thing that defies the world with all its vain glory; by letting their moderation be known unto all men, both in dress and in living; in words and in deeds; in watching and in praying; in love and in labor, and in works as well as in faith, they [the Saints] preach the world a lecture, they set the inquirer an example, and teach all Christendom a lesson, that studied preaching and pulpit eloquence have failed to accomplish.

Common Schools.

The disciples should lose no time in preparing schools for their children, that they may be taught as is pleasing unto the Lord, and brought up in the way of holiness. Those appointed to select and prepare books for the use of schools, will attend to that subject as soon as more weighty matters are finished. 2 But the parents and guardians in the Church of Christ need not wait—it is all-important that children to become good should be taught [good]. Moses, while delivering the words of the Lord to the congregation of Israel, that is, to the parents, says, "And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes." If it were necessary them to teach their children diligently, how much more necessary is it now, when the Church of Christ is to be an ensign, yea, even an ensample to the world, for good? A word to the wise ought to be sufficient, for children soon become men and women. Yes, they are they that must follow us, and perform the duties which not only appertain to this world, but to the second coming of the Savior, even preparing for the Sabbath of creation, and for eternity.

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The "Star" Office.

The Star office is situated within twelve miles of the west line of the state of Missouri; which at present is the western limits of the United States, and about 120 miles west of any press in the state, in about 39 degrees of north latitude, and about 17 1/2 degrees of west longitude, 2 1/2 miles south of Missouri river; 280 miles by land, or 500 by water, west of St. Louis; nearly 1,200 miles west of Washington; 1,300 miles from New York, and more than 1,500 miles from Boston.

Second No. of the Star.

In August we were again delighted to receive the Star. The following is extracted from the second [July] number:

The Elders in the Land of Zion, to the Church of Christ Scattered Abroad.

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Brethren, we think it proper to give you some general information respecting the present state of the Church in Zion, and also the work of the gathering. Notwithstanding that nearly all Christendom doubt the propriety of receiving revelations for the government of the Church of Christ in this age, and generally adopt the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments as the only rule of faith and practice, yet we believe, from the Scriptures of truth, that to every church in past ages which the Lord recognized to be His, He gave revelations, wisely calculated to govern them in the peculiar situation and circumstances under which they were placed, and to enable them by authority to do the peculiar work which they were to perform. The Bible contains revelations given at different times to different people, under different circumstances, as will be seen by editorial articles in this paper. The old world was destroyed for rejecting the revelations of God given to them through Noah. The Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness for despising the revelations given to them through Moses; and Christ said that the world, in the days of the Apostles, would be condemned for not receiving the word of God through them: Thus we see that the judgments of God in the past ages have come upon the people, not so much for neglecting the revelations given to their forefathers, as for rejecting those given immediately to themselves. Of the blessings of heaven it may be said, that they always rested upon the heads of those to whom they were promised. Therefore, seeing that it not only was, but, as long as God remains the same, always will be, the privilege of the true Church to receive revelations containing blessings and cursings, peculiarly adapted to itself as a Church, we conclude that it is a mistaken notion that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only rule of faith and practice; nevertheless, inasmuch as the precepts and examples contained in them are truly applicable to us under our particular circumstances, we are bound to be governed by them; and we also can receive much benefit from such prophecies as point out the events that shall take place in our day and age. Of these there are many, both in the Old and the New Testaments. They speak plainly of great things that shall be accomplished in the last days;—such as preaching the everlasting Gospel to all nations; the gathering of the elect from the four winds of heaven; the building up of Zion and Jerusalem, or the ingathering of the remnants of Jacob, and the planting them in the lands of their fathers' inheritance; the necessary preparation to meet the Savior at His second coming, with all the Saints, to dwell with them in the millennial reign. And now, who with the Bible in his hand, can suppose that these great and marvelous works can be accomplished by the Church without more revelations from the Lord? We cannot, for we worship the God of Israel, in whom is neither variableness nor shadow of turning;—consequently as in days of old, so in these last days, He has given us revelations by which we may know how to organize the Church of Christ, and by His authority to perform the work which He has enjoined upon us. And now brethren, if we wish for blessings upon this Church, we must walk humbly before the Lord, and observe to keep all His commandments. Notwithstanding the work of the gathering will be accomplished, we believe in a speedy manner, yet the Lord has commanded that it shall not be done in haste, nor by flight, but that all things shall be prepared before you; and for this purpose He has made it the duty of the Bishop or agent in the land of Zion to make known, from time to time, the privileges of the land to the conferences, which may determine and make known how many can be accommodated. And the Saints will remember that the Bishop in the land of Zion will not receive any, as wise stewards, without they bring a recommend from the Bishop in Ohio, or from three Elders. The Elders therefore, will be careful not to recommend and send up churches to this place, without first receiving information from the Bishop in Ohio, or in the land of Zion, that they can be accommodated when they arrive, so as to be settled without confusion, which would produce pestilence. Therefore, if a church is desirous to come to the land of Zion, we would recommend that first, by letter or otherwise, they make known their desires and their situation to the Bishop in Ohio, or in the land of Zion, and receive information from them before they start. Brethren will perceive as well as we, that where churches of fifty or a hundred souls each, are coming to the land of Zion, from different parts of the nation, and, as soon will be the case, from different nations, without a knowledge of each other, they would, when they arrive, be in a state of confusion, and labor under many disadvantages which might be avoided by strictly observing the rules and regulations of the Church. Moreover by being in haste, and forcing the sale of property, unreasonable sacrifices have been made, and although this is a day of sacrifice and tithing, yet to make lavish and unreasonable sacrifices is not well pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

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It is about one year since the work of the gathering commenced, in which time between three and four hundred have arrived here, and are mostly located upon their inheritances, and are generally in good health and spirits and are doing well. The expense of journeying and settling here, together with the establishment of a printing office and store, have probably exceeded the expectations of our brethren abroad, and although Zion, according to the Prophets, is to become like Eden, or the garden of the Lord, yet, at present it is as it were but a wilderness and desert, and the disadvantages of settling in a new country, you know, are many and great. Therefore, prudence would dictate the churches abroad, at present, not to come up to Zion, until preparations can be made for them, and they receive information as above. The prospect for crops in this region of country is, at present, tolerably good, but calls for provisions will undoubtedly be considerable, for besides the emigration of the whites, the government of the United States is settling the Indians (or remnants of Joseph), immediately to the west, and they must be fed.

Brethren, we drop the above remarks for your benefit, until you can have the revelations to peruse for yourselves, which will be published as soon as they consistently can be. Although the Lord has said, that it is His business to provide for His Saints in these last days, yet remember He is not bound so to do, unless we observe His sayings and keep them.

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To the Elders of the Church of Christ, Who Preach Good Tidings to the World.

Brethren, as stars of the ensign which is now set up for the benefit of all nations, you are to enlighten the world, you are to prepare the way for the people to come up to Zion; you are to instruct men how to receive the fulness of the Gospel, and the everlasting covenants, even them that were from the beginning; you are to carry the ark of safety before the wondering multitudes, without fear, entreating and beseeching all men to be saved; you are to set an example of meekness and humility before Saints and sinners, as did the Savior; and when reviled you are not to revile again; you are to reason with men, as in days of old to bear patiently and answer as the spirit of truth shall direct, allowing all credit for every item of good. You are to walk in the valley of humility, and pray for the salvation of all; yes, you are to pray for your enemies; and warn in compassion without threatening the wicked with judgments which are to be poured out upon the world hereafter. You have no right to take the judgments, which fell upon the ungodly before the flood, and pour them upon the head of this generation; you have no authority to use the judgments which God sent upon Pharaoh in Egypt, to terrify the inhabitants of America, neither have you any direction by commandment, to collect the calamities of six thousand years and paint them upon the curtain of these last days to scare mankind to repentance; no, you are to preach the Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation, even glad tidings of great joy unto all people.

Again, you are not to take the blessings of an individual, or of a church, from the days of Enoch to the days of the Apostles, and place them upon an individual or a church in these last days; but you are to teach all men that they shall be judged according to their works. For, if God is the same yesterday, today, and for ever, His reward is always with Him; and His revelations and blessings and judgments, before the flood, were fitted for that people and that time, in the days of Abraham, for that man and that time; in the days of Moses, for that man and that time; in the days of David, for that man and that time; in the days of Paul, for that man and that time; and now, for this generation and this time. You therefore, must reason from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, with great care and not pervert the meaning of God's sacred word. If our Heavenly Father saw fit to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness, Nineveh for its abomination, and Jerusalem for a transgression of His commandments, what have their destruction to do with the salvation of the world now? The Lord says, Vengeance is mine, and I will repay. Teach all men to trust in God and not in man, and do works meet for repentance. Again, teach all men that God is a God of the living and not of the dead. Finally, whatever you do, do it with an eye single to the glory of God. You are the light of the world in matters of pure religion, and many souls may be required at your hands. Let the idea not leave you, that not only the eyes of the world, but the eyes of the angels and of God are upon you.

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Foreign News.

It is a day of strange appearances. Everything indicates something more than meets the eye. Every nation is opening events which astonish mankind. Even the heart of man begins to melt at the prospect before him. The unquenchable thirst for news; the continuity of emigration, the wars and rumors of wars, with many other signs of the distress of nations, from the old world—as the land is called across the ocean—whisper so loud to the understanding, that he who runs may read the label on the eastern sky—The end is nigh. France is filled with a spirit of rebellion, and when the cholera was sweeping its thousands mobs were collecting to slay their tens of thousands. While the hospitals were crowded with the sick, and the groans of the dying filled the air, the fashionable French were holding cholera balls and dancing at the judgments of the Almighty. In England, where an anxious multitude have been waiting for reformation in government for years, disappointment is destruction. The house of lords has rejected the Reform Bill, and the proud-hearted Englishman says: Reform or Revolution! No stop there; for the sound comes across the Atlantic: Reform or ruin! All the kingdoms of the east seem to be preparing to act the part allotted to them, when the Lord rebukes the nations. As on a morning of some great festival, the church bell, the cannon, the small arms, the music, and the cheers of the multitude, arouse all to what is going on, and thunder to man: Behold the day! So also earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, the distress of nations, the constant tide of emigration to the west, the wide spreading ravages of the cholera, and the joy of the Saints of God as they come out of Babylon, alarm the world, and whisper to every mortal: Watch ye, for the time is at hand for the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel, with peace on earth and good will to man. Watch the signs of His coming, that ye be not deceived.

Items for the Public.

In connection with the Star, we publish a weekly paper, entitled the Upper Missouri Advertiser. It will contain sketches of the news of the day, politics, advertisements, and whatever tends to promote the interest of the great west.

The August number of the Star, [no. 3] contained the following:

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The Cholera.

This desolating sickness is spreading steadily over the United States. The account of its ravages in many places, we cannot give. The whole number of cases in New York, to July 31st, is 3,731. Deaths, 1,520.

No man can stop the work of the Lord, for God rules the pestilence, and the pestilence rules men. Forts, sentinels, and oceans may hinder men, or money may bribe, but when the pestilence rides on the wings of the wind, the sentinel has no power; the fort is no obstacle, the ocean is no barrier; and money has no value; the destroying angel goes waving the banner of death over all; and who shall escape his pointed arrow? Not he that could brave death at the cannon's mouth, but shrinks at the sound of the cholera; not he that worshiped his God in some stately chapel, every Sabbath till the cholera comes, and then flees for his life; no, none but he that trusts in God, shall be able to stand when a thousand shall fall at his side, and ten thousand at his right hand by the noisome pestilence.

To the Honorable Men of the World.

To the honorable searchers for truth: we, in a spirit of candor and meekness are bound by every tie that makes man the friend of man, by every endowment of heaven, that renders intelligent beings seekers of happiness to show you the way to salvation. In fact, we are not only bound to do thus for those that seek the riches of eternity, but, to walk in the tracks of our Savior, we must love our enemies; bless them that curse us; do good to them that hate us, and pray for them that despitefully use us, and persecute us, or else you and the world may know that we are not the children of God. Therefore to be obedient to the precepts of our divine Master, we say unto you—Search the Scriptures—search the revelations which we publish, and ask your Heavenly Father, in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, to manifest the truth unto you, and if you do it with an eye single to His glory, nothing doubting, He will answer you by the power of His Holy Spirit. You will then know for yourselves and not for another. You will not then be dependent on man for the knowledge of God; nor will there be any room for speculation. No; for when men receive their instruction from Him that made them, they know how he will save them. Then again we say: Search the Scriptures, search the Prophets, and learn what portion of them belongs to you and the people of the nineteenth century. You, no doubt, will agree with us, and say, that you have no right to claim the promises of the inhabitants before the flood; that you cannot found your hopes of salvation upon the obedience of the children of Israel when journeying in the wilderness; nor can you expect that the blessings which the Apostles pronounced upon the churches of Christ, eighteen hundred years ago, were intended for you. Again, if others' blessings are not your blessings, others' curses are not your curses; you stand then in these last days, as all have stood before you, agents unto yourselves, to be judged according to your works.

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Every man lives for himself. Adam was made to open the ways of the world, and for dressing the garden. Noah was born to save seed of everything, when the earth was washed of its wickedness by the flood; and the Son of God came into the world to redeem it from the fall. But except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. This eternal truth settles the question of all men's religion. A man may be saved, after the judgment, in the terrestrial kingdom, or in the telestial kingdom, but he can never see the celestial kingdom of God without being born of the water and the Spirit. He may receive a glory like unto the moon [i. e. of which the light of the moon is typical], or a star [i. e. of which the light of the stars is typical], but he can never come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly and Church of the First-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, unless he becomes as a little child, and is taught by the Spirit of God. Wherefore, we again say, search the revelations of God: study the prophecies, and rejoice that God grants unto the world Seers and Prophets. They are they who saw the mysteries of godliness; they saw the flood before it came; they saw angels ascending and descending upon a ladder that reached from earth to heaven: they saw the stone cut out of the mountain, which filled the whole earth; they saw the Son of God come from the regions of bliss and dwell with men on earth; they saw the deliverer come out of Zion, and turn away ungodliness from Jacob; they saw the glory of the Lord when He showed the transfiguration of the earth on the mount; they saw every mountain laid low and every valley exalted when the Lord was taking vengeance upon the wicked; they saw truth spring out of the earth, and righteousness look down from heaven in the last days, before the Lord came the second time to gather His elect; they saw the end of wickedness on earth, and the Sabbath of creation crowned with peace; they saw the end of the glorious thousand years, when Satan was loosed for a little season; they saw the day of judgment when all men received according to their works, and they saw the heaven and earth flee away to make room for the city of God, when the righteous receive an inheritance in eternity. And, fellow sojourners upon earth, it is your privilege to purify yourselves and come up to the same glory, and see for yourselves, and know for yourselves. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

Chapter 20 - Notes

1. The salutatory address was signed by W. W. Phelps.

2. This is in plain allusion to the revelation on page 185 where W. W. Phelps and Oliver Cowdery are appointed a committee to prepare books for schools in the Church, that little children might receive instruction, which is pleasing before the Lord. That revelation and the above article from the Star of June, 1832, plainly foreshadow the great interest the Church would take in education.