Volume 2 Chapter 12 | BYU Studies

Volume 2 Chapter 12

 

Chapter 12

Change in Church Periodicals—the Covenant of Tithing—Close of the Year 1834.

[Page 167]

"Messenger and Advocate" Founded.

October 1-15.—Great exertions were made to expedite the work of the Lord's house, and notwithstanding it was commenced almost with nothing, as to means yet the way opened as we proceeded, and the Saints rejoiced. The former part of October was spent in arranging matters respecting the Lord's house and the printing office, for it had previously been published that the Evening and Morning Star would be discontinued, and a new paper issued in its place, entitled The Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate. 1

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The Prophet's Labors in Michigan.

Having accomplished all that could be done at present, on the 16th of the month, in company with my brother Hyrum Smith, and Elders David Whitmer, Frederick G. Williams, Oliver Cowdery, and Roger Orton, left Kirtland for the purpose of visiting some Saints in the state of Michigan, where, after a tolerably pleasant journey, we arrived at Pontiac on the 20th.

While on our way up the lake on board the steamer Monroe, Elder Cowdery had a short discussion with a man calling his name Ellmer. He said that he was "personally acquainted with Joe Smith, had heard him preach his lies, and now, since he was dead, he was glad! He had heard Joe Smith preach in Bainbridge Chenango county, New York, five years since; he knew it to be him, that he [Joseph Smith] was a dark complexioned man," etc. Ellmer appeared to exult most in that "Joe" was dead, and made his observations in my presence. I concluded that he learned it from the popular priests of the day, who, through fear that their craft will be injured, if their systems are compared with the truth, seek to ridicule those who teach the truth, and thus I am suffering under the tongue of slander for Christ's sake, unceasingly. God have mercy on such, if they will quit their lying. I need not state my complexion to those that have seen me, and those who have read my history thus far, will recollect that five years ago I was not a preacher, as Ellmer represented; neither did I ever preach in Bainbridge. 2

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After preaching, and teaching the Saints in Michigan as long as our time would allow, we returned to Kirtland, greatly refreshed from our journey, and much pleased with our friends in that section of the Lord's vineyard.

Preparation of the School for the Elders.

It now being the last of the month, and the Elders beginning to come in, it was necessary to make preparations for the school for the Elders, wherein they might be more perfectly instructed in the great things of God, during the coming winter. A building for a printing office was nearly finished, and the lower story of this building was set apart for that purpose, (the school) when it was completed. So the Lord opened the way according to our faith and works, and blessed be His name.

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Strenuous Life of the Prophet.

No month ever found me more busily engaged than November; but as my life consisted of activity and unyielding exertions, I made this my rule: When the Lord commands, do it. Among other matters, the following letter was sent to George James, Brownhelm, Ohio, by order of the High Council:

Kirtland, November 10, 1834.

Dear Brother:—There having been serious complaints presented to us against you, we sincerely request you to come to Kirtland immediately, as it will be necessary that a proper notice be taken of the same. We do not write the above with a view to accuse you ourselves, but you know the great responsibility resting upon us and the propriety of noticing charges, especially when they are preferred against men in important and interesting stations in the Church of the Saints. We have truly written the above with feelings of deep interest for your own welfare and standing in the Church; and we do hope you will not fail to come down immediately, as the representations made to us will require immediate notice. It is necessary for us to inform you that until you appear and make the satisfaction requisite, you are suspended from acting in the authority of the office to which you have been previously ordained.

With feelings of respect we subscribe ourselves, your brethren in the New Covenant,

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Sidney Rigdon

Oliver Cowdery,

Clerk of the High Council.

I continued my labors daily, preparing for the school, and received the following:

Revelation given November 25, 1834. 3

1. It is my will that my servant Warren A. Cowdery should be appointed and ordained a presiding High Priest over my Church in the land of Freedom and the regions round about;

2. And should preach my everlasting Gospel, and lift up his voice and warn the people, not only in his own place, but in the adjoining counties.

3. And devote his whole time to this high and holy calling which I now give unto him, seeking diligently the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all things necessary shall be added thereunto, for the laborer is worthy of his hire.

4. And again, verily I say unto you, the coming of the Lord draweth nigh, and it overtaketh the world as a thief in the night:

5. Therefore, gird up your loins that you may be the children of light, and that day shall not overtake you as a thief.

6. And again, verily I say unto you, there was joy in heaven when my servant Warren bowed to my sceptre, and separated himself from the crafts of men.

7. Therefore, blessed is my servant Warren, for I will have mercy on him, and notwithstanding the vanity of his heart, I will lift him up. inasmuch as he will humble himself before me;

8. And I will give him grace and assurance wherewith he may stand, and if he continue to be a faithful witness and a light unto the Church, I have prepared a crown for him in the mansions of my Father. Even so. Amen.

[Page 171]

The same day, Hon. J. T. V. Thompson, Missouri state senator, wrote Elder Phelps, at Liberty, as follows:

Jefferson City, Nov. 25, 1834.

Dear Sir:—I will say to you that your case with the Jackson people has been mentioned to the highest officer in the sate, the governor. He speaks of it in his message, and so much of his message will be referred to a committee. I am not able to say what will be their report, but I will write you again.

I have the honor, etc.,

J. T. V. Thompson.

The following is that portion of the governor's message referred to in the foregoing letter:

In July, 1833, a large portion of the citizens of Jackson county organized themselves and entered into resolutions to expel from that county a religious sect called Mormons, who had become obnoxious to them. In November following, they effected their object; not, however, without the loss of several lives.

[Page 172]

In the judicial inquiry into these outrages, the civil authorities who had cognizance of them, deemed it proper to have a military guard for the purpose of giving protection during the progress of the trials. This was ordered, and the Attorney-General was requested to give his attention during the investigation, both of which were performed, but all to no purpose. As yet none has been punished for these outrages, and it is believed that, under our present laws, conviction for any violence committed against a Mormon cannot be had in Jackson county. These unfortunate people are now forbidden to take possession of their homes, and the principal part of them, I am informed, are at this time living in an adjoining county, in a great measure upon the charity of its citizens. It is for you to determine what amendments the laws may require so as to guard against such acts of violence for the future.

Minutes of a Council held at Kirtland, November 28th.

A council convened this evening to transact business according to the regulations of the Church; Joseph Smith, Jun., Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams presiding. Eight councilors present.

John Johnson and Hyrum Smith were appointed to speak.

A letter from the church in Lewis, Essex county, New York, was presented by Brothers John H. Tippits, and Joseph H. Tippits, and read by the clerk. Said letter contained an account of money and other property sent by the church in Lewis, in the care of said brethren, to carry to Missouri to purchase land. These Elders wished the advice of the council, whether they had better pursue their journey or not.

The two Councilors spoke on the case, followed by President Williams, Councilor Orson Hyde and the clerk; after which President Rigdon gave a decision that our brethren be advised to tarry in this place during the winter; in which the council concurred.

The two brethren then arose respectively and said they were perfectly satisfied with the decision of the council.

The amount donated by the church in Lewis is, according to their letter, in cash, $473.29. The amount in Star property is $375.11. Total, $848.40.

The council then decided that President Joseph Smith, Jun., take such amount of said money as those brethren can part with for the present, by giving sufficient security, to be paid with interest by the 15th of April, 1835.

It was ascertained by the council that Sister Caroline Tippits held $149.75 of the money mentioned in said letter, she was accordingly called into the council, and expressed a willingness to loan the same.

[Page 173]

One note of $280 was drawn in favor of John H. Tippits, and another of $150, in favor of Caroline Tippits, each due April 15, 1835. Signed by Joseph Smith, Jun., Oliver Cowdery, and Frederick G. Williams.

Oliver Cowdery, Clerk.

The following letter was presented by John H. Tippits, and formed the subject for consideration by the preceding council, written to President Joseph Smith, Jun., and the High Council in Kirtland, by Alvah L. Tippits, to be sent greeting:

President Smith will recollect the time I left Kirtland last winter in order to come to dispose of the property I had in possession, which I have been striving to do from that time till about the first of September last, but I have felt very uneasy while the commandment has gone forth for the eastern churches to flee unto the West.

The 1st, or about the 1st of September, with two of my brethren, I took the revelation concerning the redemption of Zion and read it, and then we agreed to ask God to enable us to obey the same. As we live in the eastern states, our minds were impressed with these important lines:

"Therefore. a commandment I give unto all the churches, that they shall continue to gather together unto the places which I have appointed; nevertheless as I have said unto you in a former commandment, let not your gathering be in haste, nor by flight; but let all things be prepared before you: and in order that all things be prepared before you, observe the commandment which I have given concerning these things, which saith, or teacheth, to purchase all the lands with money, which can be purchased or money, in the region round about the land which I have appointed to be the land of Zion, for the beginning of the gathering of my Saints; all the land which can be purchased in Jackson county and the counties round about, and leave the residue in mine hand. Now, verily I say unto you, let all the churches gather together all their monies; let these things be done in their time, but not in haste, and observe to have all things prepared before you. And let honorable men be appointed, even wise men, and send them to purchase these lands; and the churches in the eastern countries, when they are built up, if they will hearken unto this counsel, they may buy lands and gather together upon them; and in this way they may establish Zion." 4

After further consideration and much prayer, we carried the case before the church in this place, which met the approbation of the same.

[Page 174]

Accordingly we strove to become of one heart and one mind, and appointed a day for fasting and prayer, and asked the Lord to enable us to collect all our monies; and appointed a day for the church to come together for counsel.

Accordingly we came together, and after conversation, chose a moderator and clerk to keep the records of the church; counseled concerning property owned by the church, and commenced to make sale and collect pay according to the voice of the church in order to collect all monies owned by the church, and send by the hands of wise men, who were appointed by the voice of the church; one Elder and one Priest, according to the will of God.

Alvah L. Tippits.

Lewis, County of Essex,

New York, October 20, 1834.

The members of a branch of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, agreeable to the requirement of heaven, have striven to unite their hearts and views, in order to be found spotless before the blazing throne of the Great Jehovah when He comes to make us His jewels, and for this end to send property by the hands of wise men, appointed by the voice of the church, agreeable to the revelation concerning the redemption of Zion, for the purpose of purchasing land in Jackson county, or counties round about, for the inheritance of the Church. Agreeable to this, we give our names with the affixed sums annexed:

Cash Property
Joseph H. Tippits————$98.67————$120.37
Alvah Tippits————34.63————80.00
John H. Tippits————171.05————51.93
Henry Adams————11.13————8.75
Zebulon Adams————1.75
Caroline Tippits————151.06————107.00
David Bragg————5.00————1.06
Gustavus A. Perry————6.00

Total, $848.40; $100.00 for boots and shoes, to be left in Kirtland.

The wise men appointed are John H. Tippits and Joseph H. Tippits.

The Covenant of Tithing.

On the evening of the 29th of November, I united in prayer with Brother Oliver for the continuance of blessings. After giving thanks for the relief which the Lord had lately sent us by opening the hearts of the brethren from the east, to loan us $430; after commencing and rejoicing before the Lord on this occasion, we agreed to enter into the following covenant with the Lord, viz.:

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That if the Lord will prosper us in our business and open the way before us that we may obtain means to pay our debts; that we be not troubled nor brought into disrepute before the world, nor His people; after that, of all that He shall give unto us, we will give a tenth to be bestowed upon the poor in His Church, or as He shall command; and that we will be faithful over that which He has entrusted to our care, that we may obtain much; and that our children after us shall remember to observe this sacred and holy covenant; and that our children, and our children's children, may know of the same, we have subscribed our names with our own hands.

(Signed)

Joseph Smith, Jun.

Oliver Cowdery.

A Prayer.

And now, O Father, as Thou didst prosper our father Jacob, and bless him with protection and prosperity wherever he went, from the time he made a like covenant before and with Thee; as Thou didst even the same night, open the heavens unto him and manifest great mercy and power, and give him promises, wilt Thou do so with us his sons; and as his blessings prevailed above his progenitors unto the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, even so may our blessings prevail like his; and may Thy servants be preserved from the power and influence of wicked and unrighteous men; may every weapon formed against us fall upon the head of him who shall form it; may we be blessed with a name and a place among Thy Saints here, and Thy sanctified when they shall rest. Amen.

A Prophecy.

November 30.—While reflecting on the goodness and mercy of God this evening, a prophecy was put into our hearts, that in a short time the Lord would arrange His providences in a merciful manner and send us assistance to deliver us from debt and bondage.

School at Kirtland for the Elders.

December 1.—Our school for the Elders was now well attended, and with the lectures on theology, 5 which were regularly delivered, absorbed for the time being everything else of a temporal nature. The classes, being mostly Elders gave the most studious attention to the all-important object of qualifying themselves as messengers of Jesus Christ, to be ready to do His will in carrying glad tidings to all that would open their eyes, ears and hearts.

[Page 176]

Oliver Cowdery Ordained an Assistant-President.

According to the direction of the Holy Spirit, on the evening of the 5th of December, while assembled with Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery, conversing upon the welfare of the Church, I laid my hands on Brother Oliver Cowdery, and ordained him an assistant-president, saying these words: "In the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified for the sins of the world, I lay my hands upon thee and ordain thee an assistant-president to the High and Holy Priesthood, in the Church of the Latter-day Saints." 6

[Page 177]

Thanks to Governor Dunklin.

On the 11th, Elder Phelps wrote from Liberty, Clay county, to J. T. V. Thompson, Jefferson City, in reply to his letter of the 25th November, expressive of thankfulness to his Excellency, Governor Dunklin, for introducing the sufferings of the Saints in his message; also asking counsel "whether it would avail anything for the society to petition the legislature for an act to reinstate them in their rights," etc.; and requesting him to confer with his friends and his Excellency on the subject, and give an early answer.

Revived Hopes.

About the middle of the month, the message of Governor Dunklin, of Missouri, to the legislature, arrived at Kirtland. It was read with great interest, and revived the hopes of the Church for the scattered brethren of Jackson county.

Elder Phelps wrote again to Esquire Thompson, on the 18th as follows:

Dear Sir—By this mail I have forwarded to Captain Atchison, of the lower house, a petition and documents, on the subject of our rights in Jackson county. He will hand them to you for the senate, when they are through with them in the house. I shall be greatly obliged, if you will lay them before your honorable body; and any information you may require, or even personal attendance, write, and you shall have it if it is in my power. As a people, all we ask is our rights.

With esteem, etc.,

W. W. Phelps.

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Thompson and Atchison Promise Assistance.

On the 20th Messrs. Thompson and Atchison wrote Elder Phelps from the "Senate Chamber," acknowledging the receipt of his letter, stating that the committee on the Governor's message had not reported, and recommending the Saints to get up a petition to the legislature, with as many signatures as possible, promising their assistance and influence to obtain redress of grievances. A petition was accordingly forwarded; but the year closed without bringing anything to pass for the relief of the Saints in Missouri. 7

Chapter 12

1. The following is the explanation given in the Evening and Morning Star for this change in the name of the Church periodical: "As the Evening and Morning Star was designed to be published at Missouri, it was considered that another name would be more appropriate for a paper in this place [Kirtland] consequently, as the name of this Church has lately been entitled the Church of the Latter-day saints, and since it is destined, at least for a season, to hear the reproach and stigma of this world, it is no more than just that a paper disseminating the doctrines believed by the same, and advocating its character and rights should be entitled The Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate."

There was also a change announced in the form of the Church periodical. The Evening and Morning Star as first published was a quarto, but the Messenger and Advocate was to be published in octavo form for greater convenience in binding and preserving. It was also announced that the two volumes of the Star would be reprinted in octavo form; which, by the way, was done.

This first number of the Messenger and Advocate contained a summary of the most prominent points of doctrine believed in by the Church at that time, signed by Oliver Cowdery; and as the doctrine development in the Church is a prominent feature of this work, that summary is here appended:

"We believe in God, and His son Jesus Christ. We believe that God, from the beginning, revealed Himself to man, and that whenever He has had a people on earth, He always has revealed Himself to them by the Holy Ghost, the ministering of angels or His own voice. We do not believe that He ever had a Church on earth without revealing Himself to that Church; consequently there were apostles, prophets, evangelists pastors, and teachers in the same.

"We believe that God is the same in all ages, and that it requires the same holiness, purity, and religion to save a man now as it did anciently; and that, as He is no respecter of persons, always has, and always will reveal Himself to men when they call upon Him.

"We believe that God has revealed Himself to men in this age, and commenced to raise up a Church preparatory to His second advent, when He will come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

"We believe that the popular religious theories of the day are incorrect; that they are without parallel in the revelations of God, as sanctioned by Him; and that however faithfully they may be adhered to, or however jealously or warmly they may be defended, they will never stand the strict scrutiny of the word of life.

"We believe that all men are born free and equal; that no man, combination of men, or government of men has power or authority to compel or force others to embrace any system of religion, or religious creed, or to use force or violence to prevent others from enjoying their own opinions, or practicing the same, so long as they do not molest or disturb others in a manner to deprive them of their privileges as free citizens, or of worshiping God as they choose, and that any attempt to do so is an assumption unwarrantable in the revelations of heaven, and strikes at the root of civil liberty, and is a subversion of all equitable principles between men and man.

"We believe that God has set His hand the second time to recover the remnant of His people, Israel; and that the time is near when He will bring them from the four winds with songs of everlasting joy, and reinstate them upon their own lands which He gave their fathers by covenant.

"And further, we believe in embracing good wherever it may be found; of proving all things, and holding fast to that which is righteous. This, in short, is our belief, and we stand ready to defend it upon its own foundation whenever it is assailed by men of character and respectability. And while we set upon these broad principles, we trust in God that we shall never be confounded.

"Oliver Cowdery."

"Kirtland, Ohio, October, 1834"

2. In a communication to the first number of the Messenger and Advocate, October, 1831, Elder Oliver Cowdery gives substantially the same account of this incident. After a somewhat lengthy statement of how he refuted Ellmer's assertion that the Savior had not been seen since His ascension, he continues:

"How far this conversation was, or will be, productive of good, I am unable to say; but by that means numbers heard, and no doubt felt an increased anxiety to learn something further relative to this 'strange work.' One individual purchased a Book of Mormon, notwithstanding Mr. Ellmer's bitter cry of 'Joe Smith' and 'false prophets,' and will thus have the privilege of hearing the truth, though he may be separated far from those who have authority to administer the ordinances of the everlasting Gospel. May heaven inspire his heart to seek diligently until he obtains a certain knowledge of the kingdom of our God in these last days."

3. D&C 104

4. D&C 101:67-74.

5. These "Lectures on Theology" here referred to were afterwards prepared by the Prophet, (see page 180) and published in the Doctrine and Covenants under the title "Lectures on Faith." They are seven in number, and occupy the first seventy-five pages in the current editions of the Doctrine and Covenants. They are not to be regarded as of equal authority in matters of doctrine with the revelations of God in the Doctrine and Covenants, but as stated by Elder John Smith, who, when the book of Doctrine and Covenants was submitted to the several quorums of the Priesthood for acceptance, (August 17, 1835,) speaking in behalf of the Kirtland High Council, "bore record that the revelations in said book were true, and that the lectures judicially were written and compiled, and were profitable for doctrine." The distinction which Elder John Smith here makes should be observed as a marking the difference between the Lectures on Faith and the revelations of God in the Doctrine and Covenants.

6. This meeting of the 5th of December was a most interesting occasion. The minutes of it are found in the hand writing of Oliver Cowdery in the back of Record A, Ms. It would appear, according to these minutes, that the express purpose of the meeting of the brethren named in the Prophet's history was to recognize Oliver Cowdery in his station as the second Elder in the Church, a position for which he was designated in the revelations of God, and to which he was ordained under the hand of the Prophet, (D&C 20:3-4). It is explained in the minutes that the reason why he had not been able to officiate in his calling as said second Elder in the Church was because of his necessary absence in Zion (Missouri) to assist W. W. Phelps in conducting the printing business of the Church, etc.; hence Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G.Williams had been ordained as assistant presidents in the Church during this necessary absence of Elder Cowdery. Another item of interest recorded in these minutes is the word of the Lord by way of reproof through the Spirit concerning the failure of the brethren and the Church in general to properly recognize each other by their official titles in the Church. This item appears in the minutes as follows: "After assembling we received a rebuke for our former uncultivated and disrespectful manner of communication and salutation with and unto each other by the voice of the Spirit, saying unto us: 'Verily, condemnation resteth upon you, who are appointed to lead my Church, and to be saviors of men; and also upon the Church; and there must needs be a repentance and a reformation among you, in all things, in your examples before the Church and before the world, in all your manners, habits and customs, and salutations one toward another; rendering unto every man the respect due the office, calling, and priesthood whereunto I, the Lord, have appointed and ordained you. Amen.' " "It is only necessary to say," continue the minutes, "relative to the foregoing reproof and instruction, that though it was given in sharpness, it occasioned gladness and joy, and we were willing to repent and reform in every particular, according to the instruction given. It is also proper to remark that after the reproof was given, we all confessed, voluntarily, that such had been the manifestation of the Spirit a long time since, in consequence of which, the rebuke came with great sharpness."

7. The following letter from Governor Dunklin, in response to the petitions referred to in the text above, is found as an addenda in the manuscript history for 1835, Note A:

"To the petitions which we sent up to Missouri, Governor Dunklin replied as follows:

"City of Jefferson, January 22, 1836.

"To Messrs. W. W. Phelps and others,

"Gentlemen:—Your numerous petitions, post-marked 'Kirtland,' came safe to hand. It is unnecessary for me to repeat to you my feelings on the subject of your grievances; what they were you have been already apprised; and they have undergone no change. Your case was presented by me to the last General Assembly of this state. They did not legislate upon the subject. I am, however, persuaded that it was for want of a constitutional power to pass any law that could afford you a proper remedy prevented their acting upon the subject. Your feelings are very natural when such causes exist to produce them, but you misconceive your case, and consequently do not advert to the proper remedy; you cannot make a case of invasion or insurrection out of the outrages committed on your persons or property in Jackson county, and unless one of those could be made out, it would be idle to address the President of the United States. If such a case had been made out, as executive of this state, I should have immediately ordered out a military force to repel or suppress it. The mob in New York to which you cite me, is not in point. The military force was then resorted to for the purpose of quelling the mob. You wish this kind of force used to restore justice. However palpable and grievous the outrages have been upon you, your only remedy for injuries done, must be in and through the courts of justice. On a former occasion I informed you I was then in correspondence with the General Government for a depot of arms on the Missouri river, near out western boundary line. For reasons unknown to me, the Secretary of War has taken no steps during the last year towards the fulfillment of that object. I have renewed the subject through our delegation in Congress this winter. When this object shall be attained, it may furnish you a place of resort for protection, in case of emergency, should you think proper to risk yourselves on your lands in Jackson county again.

Respectfully,

Daniel Dunklin.