Volume 4 Chapter 25
The General Conference of the Church at Nauvoo—Doctrinal Sermon by the Prophet—Baptism for the Dead—Angels and Ministering Spirits—Epistle of the Twelve Reviewing Status of the Church.
Suit Against Geo. M. Hinckle.
George M. Hinckle, who robbed my house in Far West while I was in prison, passing down the river with a flat boat, I commenced suit against him before the District Court, now sitting at Burlington, Iowa. I sent Elias Smith, and Geo. W. Gee to attend to the suit; but Hinckle gave security, and got it put off till spring.
Day stormy and cold, a few assembled, but conference did not organize.
I received a letter from Benjamin Winchester, requesting to be excused from accompanying Elder Erastus Snow on his mission to Salem, Massachusetts, on account of ill health and pecuniary embarrassments, and expressing his conviction that Elder John E. Page had means enough to accompany Elder Orson Hyde to Jerusalem.
Saturday, October 2, 1841.
Minutes of the General Conference of the Church Held at Nauvoo.
History of the Church Volume 4
Conference met in the Grove. The Presidency being absent laying the corner stone of the Nauvoo House, the meeting was called to order by President Brigham Young; the several quorums were arranged and seated in order.
President Brigham Young opened conference by prayer.
The conference then made choice of President Joseph Smith to preside, and Elias Smith and Gustavus Hills, Clerks. Meeting adjourned until 2 p.m.
Prayer by Orson Pratt.
2 p.m., President Joseph Smith opened the meeting. Choir sung the 18th hymn.
The President then read a letter from Elder Orson Hyde, dated Ratisbon, July 17, 1841, giving an account of his journey and success in his mission, which was listened to with intense interest; and the conference by vote, expressed their approbation of the style and spirit of said letter. The President then made remarks on the inclemency of the weather, and the uncomfortable situation of the Saints with regard to a place of worship, and a place of public entertainment.
The conference was then called upon by the President, to elect a general Church clerk, in place of Robert B. Thompson, deceased. James Sloan was nominated and elected.
Elder Lyman Wight nominated Bishop George Miller to preside over the High Priests' quorum in place of Don Carlos Smith, deceased. He was duly elected.
President Brigham Young then presented the business commenced at the late special conference of the 16th of August with regard to the appointment of suitable and faithful men to the several important stations of labor in this and other countries.
Elder Lyman Wight addressed the conference on the importance of order, uniformity of instruction, and unanimity of effort to spread the work of the kingdom.
President Joseph Smith made some corrections of doctrine, quoting I Cor. 12:28, showing the principle of order and unity in the offices of the Priesthood.
The Patriarch Hyrum Smith made remarks disapproving of the course pursued by some Elders in counteracting the efforts of the presidency to gather the Saints, and in enticing them to stop in places not appointed for the gathering, particularly referring to the conduct of Elder Almon W. Babbitt of Kirtland.
Elders Lyman Wight, and Henry W. Miller testified that they had traveled in places where Elder Babbitt had been, on his return from his visit to Nauvoo, [he had] taught doctrine contrary to the revelations of God, and detrimental to the interests of the Church.
Moved and carried that Elder Almon W. Babbitt be disfellowshiped until he shall make satisfaction.
Choir sang Hymn 124. Prayer by Elder George A. Smith.
Conference adjourned until tomorrow at nine o'clock.
Conference assembled in Nauvoo according to adjournment; prayer by Elder Heber C. Kimball.
President Joseph Smith, by request of the Twelve Apostles gave instructions on the doctrine of baptism for the dead, which were listened to with intense interest by the large assembly. He presented baptism for the dead as the only way that men can appear as saviors on Mount Zion.
The proclamation of the first principles of the Gospel was a means of salvation to men individually; and it was the truth, not men, that saved them; but men, by actively engaging in rites of salvation substitutionally became instrumental in bringing multitudes of their kindred into the kingdom of God.
He explained the difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit ministering to embodied spirits—the other a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits. Jesus Christ became a ministering spirit (while His body was lying in the sepulchre) to the spirits in prison, to fulfill an important part of His mission, without which He could not have perfected His work, or entered into His rest. After His resurrection He appeared as an angel to His disciples.
Translated bodies cannot enter into rest until they have undergone a change equivalent to death. Translated bodies are designed for future missions.
The angel that appeared to John on the Isle of Patmos was a translated or resurrected body [i.e. personage], Jesus Christ went in body after His resurrection, to minister to resurrected bodies. There has been a chain of authority and power from Adam down to the present time.
The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching. It is no more incredible that God should save the dead, than that he should raise the dead.
There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. There is a way to release the spirits of the dead; that is by the power and authority of the Priesthood—by binding not loosing on earth. This doctrine appears glorious, inasmuch as it exhibits the greatness of divine compassion and benevolence in the extent of the plan of human salvation.
This glorious truth is well calculated to enlarge the understanding, and to sustain the soul under troubles, difficulties and distresses. For illustration, suppose the case of two men, brothers, equally intelligent, learned, virtuous and lovely, walking in uprightness and in all good conscience, so far as they have been able to discern duty from the muddy stream of tradition, or from the blotted page of the book of nature.
One dies and is buried, having never heard the Gospel of reconciliation; to the other the message of salvation is sent, he hears and embraces it, and is made the heir of eternal life. Shall the one become the partaker of glory and the other be consigned to hopeless perdition? Is there no chance for his escape? Sectarianism answers "none." Such an idea is worse than atheism. The truth shall break down and dash in pieces all such bigoted Pharisaism; the sects shall be sifted, the honest in heart brought out, and their priests left in the midst of their corruption.
Many objections are urged against the Latter-day Saints for not admitting the validity of sectarian baptism, and for withholding fellowship from sectarian churches. Yet to do otherwise would be like putting new wine into old bottles, and putting old wine into new bottles. What! new revelations in the old churches? New revelations would knock out the bottom of their bottomless pit. New wine into old bottles! The bottles burst and the wine runs out! What! Sadducees in the new church! Old wine in new leathern bottles will leak through the pores and escape. So the Sadducee saints mock at authority, kick out of the traces, and run to the mountains of perdition, leaving the long echo of their braying behind them.
He then referred to the [lack of] charity of the sects, in denouncing all who disagree with them in opinion, and in joining in persecuting the Saints, who believe that even such may be saved, in this world and in the world to come (murderers and apostates excepted).
This doctrine presents in a clear light the wisdom and mercy of God in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven and they judged according to the deeds done in the body. This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation. The dispensation of the fullness of times will bring to light the things that have been revealed in all former dispensations; also other things that have not been before revealed. He shall send Elijah, the Prophet, &c., and restore all things in Christ.
President Joseph Smith then announced: "There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord's House; and the Church shall not hold another General Conference, until they can meet in said house. For thus saith the Lord!"
Prayer by President Hyrum Smith.
Adjourned for one hour.
Afternoon conference opened by the choir singing hymn 105, and prayer by Elder Lyman Wight.
President Brigham Young addressed the Elders at some length, an the importance of teaching abroad the first principles of the Gospel, leaving the mysteries of the kingdom to be taught among the Saints, also on the propriety of many of the Elders remaining at home, and working on the Lord's House; and that their labors will be as acceptable to the Lord as their going abroad, and more profitable for the Church. That those who go abroad must take a recommend from the proper authorities, without which they will not be fellowshiped; and that those who go, and those who remain make consecrations more abundantly than heretofore.
Elder Lyman Wight followed with remarks of a similar purport; resigning his mission of gathering means for the Temple and Nauvoo House.
The conference appointed Elias Higbee, John Taylor, and Elias Smith, to petition Congress for redress of wrongs sustained in Missouri; and Elder John Taylor to present the petition.
Closed by the choir singing hymn 125, and prayer by President John Smith.
Conference assembled on the morning of Monday, the 4th.
Prayer by Elder George A. Smith.
President Joseph Smith made a lengthy exposition of the condition of the temporal affairs of the Church, the agency of which had been committed to him at a general conference in Quincy—explaining the manner that he had discharged the duties involved in the agency, and the conditions of the lands and other property of the Church.
On motion, resolved: that Elder Reuben McBride be invested with power of attorney to settle the business at Kirtland, left in an uncertain condition by Elder Oliver Grange, deceased.
Prayer by Elder Lyman Wight.
Adjourned for one hour.
Afternoon conference opened. Prayer by President John Smith.
Elder Lyman Wight spoke at some length on the subject introduced in the former part of the day, and on the old debts and obligations that are frequently brought up from Kirtland and Missouri; one of which, in the form of a $50 note, he held in his hand, and proclaimed it as his text.
On motion, voted unanimously, that the trustee-in-trust be instructed not to appropriate Church property to liquidate old claims that may be brought forward from Kirtland and Missouri.
President Hyrum Smith presented to the notice of the conference some embarrassment growing out of his signing as security, a certain obligation in Kirtland in favor of Mr. Eaton.
Voted, that Church property here shall not be appropriated to liquidate said claim.
President Brigham Young made some appropriate and weighty remarks on the importance of more liberal consecrations and more energetic efforts to forward the work of building the Temple and Nauvoo House; and after purchasing Elder Wight's text, by paying him fifty cents, tore it in pieces and gave it to the winds, saying, "Go ye and do likewise, with all old claims against the Church."
Choir sang hymn 104, and President Hyrum Smith closed by prayer.
Conference opened by the choir singing hymn 274, and prayer by Elder Orson Pratt.
Elder Orson Pratt, by request of President Joseph Smith, read a letter from Smith Tuttle, Esq., one of the proprietors of the Hotchkiss purchase, in reference to some misunderstanding in the adjustment of their claims, and conciliatory of any hard feelings growing out of such misunderstanding.
President Brigham Young spoke on the contents of the letter, and expressed his earnest desire that the business might be speedily adjusted, and a proper title obtained by the Church.
Elders Lyman Wight and Hyrum Smith followed with appropriate remarks.
On motion, voted, That President Joseph Smith write to Mr. Hotchkiss on the subject.
On motion by President Joseph Smith, voted, that the Twelve write an epistle to the Saints abroad, to use their influence and exertions to secure by exchange, purchase, donation, &c., a title to the Hotchkiss purchase.
President Brigham Young presented an appeal from the decision of the Elders' quorum on a charge made against Elder John A. Hicks by Dimick B. Huntington for a breach of the ordinances of the city, for falsehood and schismatical conversation. After hearing the testimony in the case it was voted that Elder John A. Hicks be cut off from the Church.
Closed by the choir singing hymn 275; prayer by President Brigham Young.
Adjourned for one hour.
Afternoon conference opened by the choir singing hymn 104, and prayer by Elder Orson Pratt, who then read the minutes of a special conference held in Nauvoo, August 16, 1841.
President Joseph Smith made remarks explanatory of the importance of the resolutions and votes passed at that time
On motion, voted, that this conference sanction the doings of said special conference.
President Brigham Young proposed to the congregation, that those who would take laborers on the Lord's House to board, while thus laboring, should manifest their willingness by rising and giving their names. About sixty persons arose.
Conference closed by the choir singing hymn 284, and prayer by President Brigham Young.
Conference adjourned sine die.
Although the conference commenced under discouraging circumstances owing to the inclemency of the weather, yet a vast number of the brethren and visitors from abroad were present, and on Saturday and Sunday, the weather having become favorable, the congregation was immense. The greatest unanimity prevailed; business was conducted with the most perfect harmony and good feelings, and the assembly dispersed with new confidence in the great work of the last days.
Joseph Smith, President.
An earthquake at Constantinople, occasioning extensive destruction of property.
Elder Joseph Beebee writes from New York that he has been preaching in that city, and has baptized twenty-nine.
Wednesday, 6.—Elder Woodruff arrived in Nauvoo.
Elders Kimball, Richards, and Woodruff laid hands on President Young, who was very sick, and he recovered.
Minutes of a Meeting of the Council of the Twelve.
Elders Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt, Lyman Wight, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Willard Richards, of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, assembled in council at the house of Elder John Taylor. Voted, that
Elder John D. Lee go on a mission to Jackson and Rutherford counties, Tennessee.
Elder David Evans, to Augusta, Iowa Territory.
Elder Elisha H. Groves, to Iowa county, Wisconsin.
Elder Hiram Clark, to Pike, Brown, and Adams counties, Illinois.
Elder Joseph Ball, to South America.
Elder Harrison Sagers, to Jamaica.
Elder William Bosley, to Utica, New York.
Elder Amasa Lyman, to New York City.
Elder Arza Adams to Kingston, Canada.
Elder Lyman Stoddard, to go with Elisha H. Groves to Wisconsin.
Elder Phinehas H. Young, to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Elder Abraham Palmer, to Chicago, Illinois.
Elder George W. Gee, to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Elder James Blakesley, to Nauvoo, Illinois.
Elder John D. Parker, to New Orleans, Louisiana.
Voted, that Phinehas H. Young be ordained to a High Priest and recommended accordingly.
That Daniel Garns be nominated for president of the Elders' quorum.
That a conference be held at Father Morley's, at Lima, on Saturday and Sunday, the 23rd and 24th instant.
That a committee of three, namely, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, and John Taylor be a committee to draft an address to the eastern churches, as directed by the general conference.
Adjourned to Bishop Miller's tomorrow evening at 6 o'clock.
Brigham Young, President.
Willard Richards, Clerk.
Copy of a Letter to Smith Tuttle, Esq.—The Hotchkiss Land Troubles.
Dear Sir:—Your kind letter of September was received during our conference, which is just over, containing a full and particular explanation of everything which gave rise to some feelings of disappointment in relation to our business transactions; and I will assure you it has allayed on our part every prejudice. It breathes the spirit of kindness and truth. I will assure you that we exceedingly regret that there has been any ground for hardness and disappointment. But as far as I am concerned, I must plead innocent, and you will consider me so, when you come to know all the facts. I have done all that I could on my part. I will still do all that I can. I will not leave one stone unturned.
Now the facts are these: I sent my brother Hyrum, and Doctor Galland with means in their hands—say not money—but with power to obtain either property or money which was necessary to enable them to fulfill the contract I made with Mr. Hotchkiss. My brother Hyrum was under the necessity of returning to this place on account of his ill health, leaving the business in the hands of Dr. Galland, with the fullest expectation that he would make over the property or money to Mr. Hotchkiss, and make everything square so far as the interest is concerned, if not the principal. He was instructed to pay the interest that had accrued, and should accrue up to the fall of 1842, so as to be in advance of our indebtedness.
I had also made arrangements with the eastern churches, and had it in my power to deed over lands for the whole debt, and had expected that an arrangement of that kind would have been entered into.
I am well assured that Dr. Galland did not look for any means whatever, to pay the interest at any rate, if not the principal; and, why he has not done according to my instructions, God only knows. I do not feel to charge him with having done wrong, until I can investigate the matter, and ascertain to a certainty where the fault lies. It may be through sickness or disaster, this strange neglect has happened. I would to God the thing had not happened.
When I read Mr. Hotchkiss' letter, I learned that he was dissatisfied. I thought that he meant to oppress me, and felt accordingly mortified and sorrowful in the midst of affliction, to think that he should distrust me for a moment that I would not do all that was within my power.
But upon having an explanation of the whole matter, my feelings are changed, and I think that you all have had cause for complaining. But you will in the magnanimity of your good feelings, certainly not blame me when you find that I have discharged an honorable duty on my part.
I regret exceedingly that I did not know some time since what I now know, that I might have made another effort before it got so late. Cold weather is now rolling in upon us. I have been confined here this season by sickness, and various other things that were beyond my control; such as having been demanded by the governor of Missouri, of the governor of this state, and he did not have moral courage enough to resist the demand, although it was founded in injustice and cruelty. I accordingly was taken prisoner, and they put me to some ten or eleven hundred dollars' expense and trouble, such as lawyer's fees, witnesses, &c., &c., before I could be redeemed from under the difficulty. But I am now clear of them once more.
And now in contemplating the face of the whole subject, I find that I am under the necessity of asking a little further indulgence—say, till next spring, so that I may be enabled to recover myself, and then, if God spares my life, and gives me power to do so, I will come in person to your country, and will never cease my labors until the whole matter is completely adjusted to the full satisfaction of all of you. The subject of your debt was fairly presented before our general conference held on the first of this month, consisting of ten thousand people for their decision on the wisest and best course in relation to meeting your demands.
The Twelve, as they are denominated in the Times and Seasons were ordered by the conference to make arrangements in the Eastern branches of the Church, ordering them to go to you and turn over their property as you and they might agree, and take up our obligations and bring them here, and receive property here for them; and I have been ordered by the conference to write this letter to you, informing you of the measures which are about to be taken to make all things right.
I would inform you that Dr. Galland has not returned to the western country as yet. He has a considerable amount of money in his hands, which was to have been paid to you, as we intended. He is on his way, for aught we know, and is retarded in his journey by some misfortune or other. He may return, however, as yet, and give a just and honorable account of himself. We hope this may be the case. I am sorrowful on account of your disappointments. It is a great disappointment to me, as well as to yourselves.
As to the growth of our place, it is very rapid, and it would be more so, were it not for sickness and death. There have been many deaths, which leaves a melancholy reflection, but we cannot help it. When God speaks from the heavens to call us hence, we must submit to His mandates.
And as for your sincerity and friendship, gentlemen, we have not the most distant doubt of it. We will not have any. We know it is for your interest to do us good, and for our welfare and happiness to be punctual in fulfillment of all our vows, and we think for the future you will have no cause for complaint. We intend to struggle with all our misfortunes in life, and shoulder them up handsomely, like men.
We ask nothing, therefore, but what ought to be required between man and man, and by those principles which bind man to man, by kindred blood, in bearing our own part in everything which duty calls us to do, as not inferior to any of the human race; and we will be treated as such, although we differ with some in matters of opinion in things (viz., religious matters), for which we only feel ourselves amenable to the Eternal God. And may God forbid that pride, ambition, a want of humanity, in any degree of importance, should have any unjust dominion in our bosoms.
We are the sons of Adam. We are the free born sons of America, and having been trampled upon, and our rights taken from us—even our constitutional rights, by a good many who boast themselves of being valiant in freedom's cause, while their hearts possess not a spark of its benign and enlightening influence—will afford a sufficient excuse, we hope, for any harsh remarks that may have been dropped by us, when we thought there was an assumption of superiority designed to gall our feelings.
We are very sensitive as a people—we confess it: but we want to be pardoned for our sins, if any we have committed. With regard to the time when the first payment of interest should be called for, it appears we misunderstood each other, but suffice it to say, that it shall not prevent our making arrangements concerning the whole matter. It is still, however, my firm conviction that my understanding concerning the interest was correct.
I remain, gentlemen, with sentiments of respect, yours, &c.,
Monday, 10.—The Twelve met for the purpose of counsel, and spent most of the day in visiting the sick.
Elder Erastus Snow writes from Northbridge, Massachusetts. He had been laboring in Salem and vicinity four weeks, organized a branch of thirty members, and the prospects are flattering.
An Epistle of the Twelve Apostles, to the Brethren Scattered Abroad on the Continent of America, Greeting:
Beloved Brethren:—It seemeth good to us to write unto you at this time concerning the great things of the kingdom of our God, and more especially as we have been called upon by the late general conference so to do, that the work may not be hindered, but that all may understand their privilege and duty in this day of glorious events, so that by exercising themselves therein, they may attain unto those blessings which God has in store for His people in the last days.
We have abundant occasion, and we rejoice exceedingly at the privilege we have had of beholding so many thousands of our brethren and sisters as were assembled at the late conference; and for the perfect harmony and good feeling which prevailed throughout all their deliberations; for the great amount of valuable instructions by President Joseph Smith and others; and for the disposition which we have seen manifested, by all who were present, to carry into effect all those noble plans and principles which were derived from heaven, and have been handed down to earth to carry forward the great and glorious work which is already commenced, and which must be consummated to secure the salvation of Israel.
While the minutes of the general conference are before you, which will be read with interest by every lover of Zion, we shall recapitulate some items, and detail more particularly to the understanding of those who had not the privilege of being present on that interesting occasion, the past, present and future situation and prospects of the Church, and the stakes, and those things which immediately concern their best interests.
A short time since, and the Saints were fleeing from their enemies. Whippings, imprisonments, tortures, and death stared them in the face, and they were compelled to seek an asylum in a land of strangers. They sought, they found it within the peaceful bosom of Illinois—a state whose citizens are inspired with a love of liberty, whose souls are endowed with those noble principles of charity and benevolence which ever bid the stranger welcome, and minister to his wants; in this state, whose soil is vieing with its citizens in all that is good and lovely, the Saints have found a resting place where, freed from tyranny and mobs, they are beginning to realize the fulfillment of the ancient prophets—"They shall build houses and inhabit them, plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof, having none to molest or make afraid."
In this city, the Church has succeeded in securing several extensive plats of land, which have been laid out in city lots, a part of which have been sold, a part has been distributed to the widow and orphan, and a part remains for sale. These lots are for the inheritance of the Saints, a resting place for the Church, a habitation for the God of Jacob; for here He has commanded a house to be built unto His name where He may manifest Himself unto His people as in former times, when He caused the ark, the tabernacle, and the temple to be reared, and the cloud, and the fire to rest down thereon; and not that the temple be built only, but that it be completed quickly, and that no more general conference be held, till it shall be held therein; and that the Nauvoo House be finished for the accommodation of the brethren from afar, and the stranger who shall come up hither to inquire after the work of the Lord, and worship in His temple.
Scores of brethren in this city have offered to board one and two laborers each, till the temple is completed, many have volunteered to labor continually, and the brethren generally are giving one-tenth part of their time, or one-tenth part of their income, according to circumstances; while those sisters who can do nothing more, are knitting socks and mittens, and preparing garments for the laborers, so that they may be made as comfortable as possible during the coming winter. In view of these things we would invite our brethren for many miles distant around us, to send in their teams for drawing stone, lumber, and materials for the building; and at the same time load their wagons with all kinds of grain and meat, provisions, and clothing, and hay, and provender in abundance, that the laborer faint not, and the teams be made strong; also that journeymen stonecutters, &c., come, bringing their tools with them, and enlist in the glorious enterprise.
Most of the plats in this city before referred to, as well as several farms and large lots of land in this, and adjoining counties are paid for, and secured to the Church by good and sufficient titles; while the town plat for the town of Warren, near Warsaw, is secured on such conditions that the brethren can be accommodated with lots on very reasonable terms; but the large plat in Nauvoo, purchased of Messrs. Hotchkiss, Tuttle & Co., of New Haven, Connecticut, remains unpaid for, and the time has now arrived, when it is very desirable on the part of the Church, as well as on the part of the gentlemen of whom it was purchased, that payment should be made, and a warrantee title secured; to accomplish which we have been called upon by the united voice of the general conference to address the churches in the eastern states, to advise with the brethren in those regions, and devise ways and means whereby this debt may be liquidated, Hotchkiss & Co. satisfied, the plat secured to the Church, and the brethren in the East at the same time transfer their real estate from the place where it now is, to this city or region of country, according to their desire.
The contract for the "Hotchkiss purchase" in Nauvoo, consisting of upwards of five hundred acres, was entered into on or about the 9th of August, 1839, for the specified sum of fifty-three thousand five hundred dollars, and security was given to Messrs. Horace R. Hotchkiss, Smith Tuttle and John Gillet, for the amount of the same, in two notes of equal amount, one payable in ten years, and the other in twenty years from the date thereof; signed by Messrs. Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. In August last interest to the amount of six thousand dollars or upwards had accumulated on said notes, which it has not been in the power of the Church to pay up to the present time. The nature of this purchase and the situation of the Church is such, that it is necessary that the notes should be taken up, the interest stopped, and a warrantee title secured immediately; a correspondence is now in progress with Messrs. Hotchkiss and Co., to effect this thing, and bring forward a final settlement.
But, say you, what can we do to accomplish this great and desirable object? Let the brethren in the eastern states who have lands which they wish to dispose of, so that they may remove hither, and secure to themselves an inheritance among the Saints either in the cities or farms in the vicinity, and are willing to have their lands in the East made over to Messrs. Hotchkiss and Co. towards the payment of the foregoing notes, communicate with us immediately, at this place, stating to us the extent and value of their property.
Then, as soon as we shall have received communications concerning property, sufficient to cancel the obligations, and the necessary preliminaries are understood with Messrs. Hotchkiss and Co., we will dispatch an agent to New Haven to complete the negotiation, transfer your property, take up the notes and secure a deed; and those whose property is thus transferred can have the value thereof here in city lots or lands in the vicinity; and thus your property will prove to you as good as money, inasmuch as you desire to emigrate; and you will no longer be obliged to tarry afar off because that money is so scarce you cannot sell and get your pay. If there are those among you to whom God has given in abundance, and they desire to appropriate some portion thereof for the benefit of His people, for the redemption of Zion, for a blessing to the widows of those who have been slain for the word of God,—and been buried in a well,—for a sustenance to their fatherless children, and provide for them a habitation, they cannot do it more effectually than by devoting a portion of their sustenance toward liquidating this claim.
To those brethren who live so far distant that they cannot send in their loaded teams, and yet desire to assist in building the Lord's house, we would say, gather yourselves together and bring of your substance, your silver, and gold, and apparel, and of your superabundance cast into the treasury of the Lord, and see if He will not pour you out a blessing till there is not room enough to receive it.
Brethren, the blessings of the kingdom are for you, for the body of Christ, for all the members, and God will help those who will help themselves, and bless those who will bless each other, and do as they would be done unto. The gold and the silver is the Lord's; all the treasures of the earth, the flocks and the herds of the fields, and the cattle on the thousand hills are His; if He were hungry, would He crave thy food, or thirsty, would He ask thy drink? Nay! He would only ask that which was His own, He would feast on His own flocks and quench His thirst at His own springs. This God is the God of the Saints, He is your God and He has made you stewards of all that has been committed to you, and will require His own with usury, and will you not be faithful in a little, that you may be made rulers over many cities? Yes, you will, we know you will.
The journeyings, and gatherings and buildings of the Saints are nothing new, and as they are expecting, looking and praying for the completion of the dispensation of the fullness of times, they must also expect that their progress will be onward, or they will be of no avail, for what is not of faith is sin, and can you believe that God will hear your prayers and bring you on your journey, gather you and build your houses, and you not put forth your hand or make one exertion to help yourselves? No. Therefore, inasmuch as the Saints believe that Father Abraham journed to a distant land at the command of the Highest, where himself and household, (whose household we are if we keep the commandments) might enjoy the fruits of their labors unmolested; and worship the God of heaven according to the dictates of their own conscience and His law; that his seed afterwards gathered to Canaan, the land of promise; that the people of God were commanded to build a house where the Son of Man might have a place to lay his head, and the disciples be endowed with power from on high, and were with one accord in one place; they must also believe that this dispensation comprehends all the great works of all former dispensations; and that the children must gather as did the fathers, must build a house where they may be endowed, and be found together worshiping and doing as their fathers did when Jehovah spake, and the angels of heaven ministered unto them; and if these things are not in this generation, then we have not arrived at the dispensation of the fullness of times as we anticipate, and our faith and prayers are vain.
Is it possible that we labor in vain and toil for nought, and that we shall be disappointed at the last? No! We know assuredly that the set time to favor Zion has come, and her sons and daughters shall rejoice in her glory. The time has come when the great Jehovah would have a resting place on earth, a habitation for His chosen where His law shall be revealed, and His servants be endowed from on high, to bring together the honest in heart from the four winds; where the Saints may enter the baptismal font for their dead relatives, so that they may be judged according to men in the flesh, and live according to God in the spirit, and come forth in the celestial kingdom; a place over which the heavenly messengers may watch and trouble the waters as in days of old, so that when the sick are put therein, they shall be made whole; a place wherein all the ordinances shall be made manifest, and the Saints shall unite in the songs of Zion, even praise, thanksgiving and hallelujahs to God and the Lamb, that He has wrought out their deliverance, and bound Satan fast in chains.
What then shall we do? Let us all arise, and with one united and mighty exertion, by the strength of Israel's God, oppose the powers of darkness, and every being and principle that may rise up against us and complete the work already commenced. Let us not for a moment lend an ear to evil and designing men who would subvert the truth and blacken the character of the servant of the Most High God, by publishing abroad that the Prophet is enriching himself on the spoils of the brethren.
When Brother Joseph stated to the general conference the amount and situation of the property of the Church, of which he is Trustee-in-Trust by the united voice of the Church, he also stated the amount of his own possessions on earth; and what do you think it was? We will tell you: his old Charley (a horse) given him in Kirtland, two pet deer, two old turkeys and four young ones, the old cow given him by a brother in Missouri, his old Major, (a dog) his wife, children and a little household furniture; and this is the amount of the great possessions of that man whom God has called to lead His people in these last days, this is the sum total of the great estates, the splendid mansions and noble living of him who has spent a life of toil and suffering, of privation and hardships, of imprisonments and chains, of dungeons and vexatious lawsuits, and every kind of contumely and contempt ungodly men could heap upon him, and last of all report him as roiling in wealth and luxury which he had plundered from the spoils of those for whose good he had thus toiled and suffered. Who would be willing to suffer what he has suffered, and labor near twenty years, as he has done, for the wealth he is in possession of?
Brethren, in view of all these things, let us be up and doing. Let those in the eastern states use all diligence in communicating to us their ability to assist in the Hotchkiss payment, being assured that no exertion they can make will equal what has already been made for them and the Church generally; and let all the Saints come up to the places of gathering, and with their mites and their abundance as God has given them in trust, help to build up the old waste places which have been thrown down for many generations, knowing that when they are completed they will belong unto the people of the Most High God, even the meek, the honest in heart, they shall possess all things, in the due time of the Lord. Be not covetous, but deal in righteousness, for what the Saints shall not possess by purchase and in righteousness they shall not possess, for no unrighteous thing can enter into the kingdom; therefore beloved brethren, deal gently, love mercy, walk humbly before God, and whatever your hands find to do, do it with your might, keeping all the commandments, and then, whether in life or in death, all things will be yours, whether they be temples or lands, houses or vineyards, baptisms or endowments, revelations or healings, all things will be yours, for you will be Christ's and Christ is God's.
Heber C. Kimball,
George A. Smith,
Nauvoo, October 12, 1841.