Volume 5 Chapter 7 | BYU Studies

Volume 5 Chapter 7

 

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Chapter 7

Efforts To Counteract the Wicked Influence of John C. Bennett—The Prophet's Reappearance among the People—His Discourse at the Special Conference and before the Relief Society at Nauvoo.

Wednesday, August 24.—At home all day; received a visit from Brothers Newel K. Whitney and Isaac Morley.

Letter of Governor Carlin to Emma Smith, anent the Prophet's Difficulties in Missouri.

Quincy, August 24, 1842.

Dear Madam.—Your letter of this date has just been handed to me, which recalls to my mind your great solicitude in reference to the security and welfare of your husband; but I need not say it recalls to my mind the subject matter of your solicitude, because that subject, except at short intervals, has not been absent from my mind. I can scarcely furnish you a justifiable apology for delaying a reply so long; but, be assured, madam, it is not for want of regard for you and your peace of mind that I have postponed, but a crowd of public business which has required my whole time, together with very ill health, since the receipt of your former letter; and it would be most gratifying to my feelings now if due regard to public duty would enable me to furnish such a reply as would fully conform to your wishes; but my duty in reference to all demands made by executives of other states for the surrender of fugitives from justice, appears to be plain and simple, consisting entirely of an executive, and not a judicial character, leaving me no discretion or adjudication as to the innocence or guilt of persons so demanded and charged with crime; and it is plain that the Constitution and laws of the United States, in reference to fugitives from justice presumes and contemplates that the laws of the several states are ample to do justice to all who may be charged with crime; and the statute of this state simply requires, "That whenever the executive of any other state, or of any territory of the United States, shall demand of the executive of this state any person as a fugitive from justice, and shall have complied with the requisitions of the Act of Congress in that case made and provided, it shall be the duty of the executive of this state to issue his warrant under the seal of the state to apprehend the said fugitive," &c.

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With the constitution and laws before me, my duty is so plainly marked out that it would be impossible to err, so long as I abstain from usurping the right of adjudication. I am aware that a strict enforcement of the laws by an executive, or a rigid administration of them by a judicial tribunal, often results in hardships to those involved; and to you it doubtless appears peculiarly so, in the present case of Mr. Smith.

If, however, as you allege, he is innocent of any crime, and the proceedings are illegal, it would be the more easy for him to procure an acquittal. In reference to the remark you attribute to me that I "would not advise Mr. Smith ever to trust himself in Missouri," I can only say, as I have heretofore said on many occasions, that I never have entertained a doubt that, if Mr. Smith should submit to the laws of Missouri, the utmost latitude would be allowed him in his defense, and the fullest justice done him; and I only intended to refer, (in the remark made to you, when at my house) to the rabble, and not to the laws of Missouri.

Very much has been attributed to me, in reference to General Smith, that is without foundation in truth: a knowledge of which fact enables me to receive what I hear, as coming from him, with great allowance.

In conclusion, dear madam, I feel conscious when I assure you that all my official acts in reference to Mr. Smith have been prompted by a strict sense of duty, and in discharge of that duty, have studiously pursued that coarse least likely to produce excitement and alarm, both in your community and the surrounding public; and I will here add that I much regret being called upon to act at all and that I hope he will submit to the laws and that justice will ultimately be done.

Be pleased to present my best respects to Mrs. Smith and Miss Snow, your companions when at Quincy, and accept of my highest regard for yourself and best wishes for your prosperity and happiness.

Your obedient servant,

Thos. Carlin.

To Mrs. Emma Smith:

Plans for the Defense of the Church.

Friday, August 26.—At home all day. In the evening, in council with some of the Twelve and others. I gave some important instructions upon the situation of the Church, showing that it was necessary that the officers who could should go abroad through the states; and inasmuch as a great excitement had been raised, through the community at large, by the falsehoods put in circulation by John C. Bennett and others, it was wisdom in God that the Elders should go forth and deluge the state with a flood of truth, setting forth the mean, contemptible persecuting conduct of ex-Governor Boggs of Missouri, and those connected with him in his mean and corrupt proceedings, in plain terms, so that the world might understand the abusive conduct of our enemies, and stamp it with indignation.

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I advised the Twelve to call a special conference on Monday next to give instructions to the Elders, and call upon them to go forth upon this important mission; meantime that all the affidavits concerning Bennett's conduct be taken and printed, so that each Elder could be properly furnished with correct and weighty testimony to lay before the public.

Great distress prevails in England on account of the dull state of trade.

Saturday, 27.—In the assembly room with some of the Twelve and others, who were preparing affidavits for the press.

Emma Smith's Letter to Governor Carlin.—Defense of the Prophet, Arraignment of Missouri.

Nauvoo, August 27, 1842.

To his Excellency Governor Carlin:

Dear Sir:—I received your letter of the 24th in due time, and now tender you the sincere gratitude of my heart for the interest which you have felt in my peace and prosperity; and I assure you that every act of kindness and every word of consolation have been thankfully received and duly appreciated by me and my friends also; and I much regret your ill health, but still hope that you will avail yourself of sufficient time to investigate our cause, and thoroughly acquaint yourself with the illegality of the prosecution instituted against Mr. Smith. And I now certify that Mr. Smith, myself nor any other person, to my knowledge, has ever, nor do we, at this time, wish your honor to swerve from your duty as an executive in the least.

But we do believe that it is your duty to allow us, in this place, the privileges and advantages guaranteed to us by the laws of this state and the United States. This is all we ask; and if we can enjoy these rights unmolested, it will be the ultimate end of all our ambition; and the result will be peace and prosperity to us, and all the surrounding country, so far as we are concerned. Nor do we wish to take any undue advantage of any intricate technicalities of law, but honorably and honestly to fulfil all of the laws of this state and of the United States; and then, in turn to have the benefits resulting from an honorable execution of those laws.

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And now, your excellency will not consider me assuming any unbecoming dictation; but recollect that the many persecutions that have been got up unjustly and pursued illegally against Mr. Smith, instigated by selfish and irreligious motives, have obliged me to know something for myself. Therefore, let me refer you to the eleventh section of our city charter—"All power is granted to the city council to make, ordain, establish and execute all ordinances, not repugnant to the Constitution of the State, or of the United States, or, as they may deem necessary, for the peace and safety of said city." Accordingly there is an ordinance passed by the city council to prevent our people from being carried off by an illegal process; and if any one thinks he is illegally seized, under this ordinance, he claims the right of habeas corpus, under section 17 of the charter, to try the question of identity, which is strictly constitutional.

These powers are positively granted in the charter over your own signature. And now, dear sir, where can be the justice in depriving us of these rights which are lawfully ours, as well as they are the lawful rights of the inhabitants of Quincy, and Springfield and many other places, where the citizens enjoy the advantages of such ordinances without controversy?

With these considerations, and many more which might be adduced, give us the privilege, and we will show your honor, and the world besides, if required, that the Mr. Smith referred to in the demand from Missouri, is not the Joseph Smith of Nauvoo, for he was not in Missouri; neither is he described in the writ according as the law requires; and that he is not a fugitive from justice. Why, then, be so strenuous to have my husband taken, when you know him to be innocent of an attempt on the life of Governor Boggs, and that he is not a fugitive from justice?

It is not the fear of a just decision against him that deters Mr. Smith from going into Missouri, but it is an actual knowledge that it was never intended he should have a fair trial.

And now, sir, if you were not aware of the fact, I will acquaint you with it now, that there were lying in wait, between this place and Warsaw, twelve men from Jackson county, Missouri, for the purpose of taking Mr. Smith out of the hands of the officers who might have him in custody. Also those two men from Missouri that were here with Messrs. King and Pitman divulged the most illegal and infernal calculations concerning taking Mr. Smith into Missouri, the evidence of which we can furnish you at any time, if required.

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And, dear sir, our good feelings revolt at the suggestion that your excellency is acquainted with the unlawful measures taken by those engaged in the prosecution—measures, which, if justice was done to others, as it would be done to us, were we to commit as great errors in our proceedings, would subject all concerned in the prosecution to the penalty of the law, and that without mercy.

I admit, sir, that it is next to an impossibility for any one to know the extent of the tyranny, treachery and knavery of a great portion of the leading characters of the state of Missouri; yet it only requires a knowledge of the Constitution of the United States and statutes of the state of Missouri, and a knowledge of the outrage committed by some of the inhabitants of that state upon the people called "Mormons," and that passed unpunished by the administrators of the law, to know that there is not the least confidence to be placed in any of those men that were engaged in those disgraceful transactions.

If the law was made for the lawless and disobedient, and punishment instituted for the guilty, why not execute the law upon those that have transgressed it, and punish those who have committed crime, and grant encouragement to the innocent, and liberality to the industrious and peaceable?

And now I entreat your honor to bear with me patiently while I ask what good can accrue to this state or the United States, or any part of this state, or the United States, or to yourself, or to any other individual, to continue this persecution upon this people, or upon Mr. Smith—a persecution that you are well aware, is entirely without any just foundation or excuse?

With sentiments of due respect, I am your most obedient servant,

Emma Smith.

1

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

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God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.

A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.

This principle will justly apply to all of God's dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness—and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has—He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances. Blessings offered, but rejected, are no longer blessings, but become like the talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant; the proffered good returns to the giver; the blessing is bestowed on those who will receive and occupy; for unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly, but unto him that hath not or will not receive, shall be taken away that which he hath, or might have had.

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Be wise today; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent may plead.
Thus on till wisdom is pushed out of time
Into eternity.

Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive; and, at the same time, is more terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect every false way, than we are apt to suppose Him to be. He will be inquired of by His children. He says: "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;" but, if you will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds; but no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things—who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy.

Sunday, 28.—At home. James Whitehead, Peter Melling, Tarleton Lewis, and Ezra Strong were received into the High Priests' quorum at Nauvoo.

The British convict ship, Waterloo, was wrecked at Cape Town, during a gale. Two hundred lives lost.

Monday, 29.

Minutes of a Special Conference, held at Nauvoo.

This being the day appointed for the conference referred to on the 26th instant, the elders assembled in the Grove near the Temple. About 10 o'clock in the forenoon, President Hyrum Smith introduced the object of the conference by stating that the people abroad had been excited by John C. Bennett's false statements, and that letters had frequently been received inquiring concerning the true nature of said reports; in consequence of which it is thought wisdom in God that every elder who can, should go forth to every part of the United States, and take proper documents with them, setting forth the truth as it is, and also preach the gospel, repentance, baptism, and salvation, and tarry preaching until they shall be called home. They must go wisely, humbly setting forth the truth as it is in God, and our persecutions, by which the tide of public opinion will be turned. There are many elders here doing little, and many people in the world who want to hear the truth. We want the official members to take their staff and go east (not west); and if a mob should come here, they will only have women and children to fight with. When you raise churches, send the means you get to build the Temple, and get the people to take stock in the Nauvoo House. It is important that the Nauvoo House should be finished, that we may have a suitable place wherein to entertain the great ones of the earth, and teach them the truth. We want the Temple built, that we may offer our oblations, and where we can ask forgiveness of our sins every week, and forgive one another, and offer up our offering, and get our endowment. The gospel will be turned from the Gentiles to the Jews. Sometime ago, almost every person was ordained, the purpose was to have you tried and ready to receive your blessings. Every one is wanted to be ready in two or three days, and I expect there will be a liberal turn out.

Return of the Prophet to the People.

Near the close of Hyrum's remarks, I went upon the stand. I was rejoiced to look upon the Saints once more, whom I have not seen for about three weeks. They also were rejoiced to see me, and we all rejoiced together. My sudden appearance on the stand, under the circumstances which surrounded us, caused great animation and cheerfulness in the assembly. Some had supposed that I had gone to Washington, and some that I had gone to Europe, while some thought I was in the city; but whatever difference of opinion had prevailed on this point, we were now all filled with thanksgiving and rejoicing.

When Hyrum had done speaking, I arose and congratulated the brethren and sisters on the victory I had once more gained over the Missourians. I had told them formerly about fighting the Missourians, and about fighting alone. I had not fought them with the sword, or by carnal weapons; I had done it by stratagem, by outwitting them; and there had been no lives lost, and there would be no lives lost, if they would hearken to my counsel.

Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who abode by my counsel. At Hauns' Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared.

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The Saint's Weapons of Warfare.

I had been in Nauvoo all the while, and outwitted Bennett's associates, and attended to my own business in the city all the time. We want to whip the world, mentally, and they will whip themselves physically. The brethren cannot have the tricks played upon them that were played at Kirtland and Far West. They have seen enough of the tricks of their enemies, and know better. Orson Pratt has attempted to destroy himself, and caused almost all the city to go in search of him. Is it not enough to put down all the infernal influences of the devil, what we have felt and seen, handled and evidenced, of this work of God? But the devil had influence among the Jews, after all the great things they had witnessed, to cause the death of Jesus Christ, by hanging Him between heaven and earth. They would deliver me up, Judas like; but a small band of us shall overcome.

We don't want or mean to fight with the sword of the flesh, but we will fight with the broad sword of the Spirit. Our enemies say our charter and writs of habeas corpus are worth nothing. We say they came from the highest authority in the state, and we will hold to them. They cannot be disannulled or taken away.

The Prophet's Plan of Campaign.

I then told the brethren I was going to send all the elders away, and when the mob came there would only be women and children to fight, and they would be ashamed. I don't want you to fight, but go and gather tens, hundreds, and thousands to fight for you. If oppression comes, I will then show them that there is a Moses and a Joshua amongst us; and I will fight them, if they don't take off oppression from me. I will do as I have done this time, I will run into the woods, I will fight them in my own way. I will send Brother Hyrum to call conferences everywhere throughout the states, and let documents be taken along and show to the world the corrupt and oppressive conduct of Boggs, Carlin, and others, that the public may have the truth laid before them.

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Let the Twelve send all who will support the character of the Prophet, the Lord's anointed; and if all who go will support my character, I prophesy in the name of the Lord Jesus, whose servant I am, that you will prosper in your missions. I have the whole plan of the kingdom before me, and no other person has. And as to all that Orson Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, or George W. Robinson can do to prevent me, I can kick them off my heels, as many as you can name; I know what will become of them.

I concluded my remarks by saying I have the best of feelings towards my brethren, since this trouble began; but to the apostates and enemies, I will give a lashing every opportunity, and I will curse them.

During the address, an indescribable transport of good feeling was manifested by the assembly, and about 380 elders volunteered to go immediately on the proposed mission.

Treaty signed between Great Britain and China, Chinese to pay $31,000,000, throw open five ports for trade, and cede Hong Kong to Great Britain.

Tuesday, 30.—At home through the day.

Wednesday, 31.—At home in the forenoon; afternoon rode to the Grove with Emma, and attended the Female Relief Society's meeting.

The following minutes were reported by Miss E. R. Snow:—

Minutes of the Female Relief Society's Meeting—Remarks of the Prophet.

President Joseph Smith arose and said, "I am happy and thankful for the privilege of being present on this occasion. Great exertions have been made on the part of our enemies to carry me to Missouri and destroy my life; but the Lord has hedged up their way, and they have not, as yet, accomplished their purpose. God has enabled me to keep out of their hands. I have warred a good warfare, insomuch as I have out-generalled or whipped out all Bennett's corrupt host.

My feelings at the present time are that, inasmuch as the Lord Almighty has preserved me until today, He will continue to preserve me, by the united faith and prayers of the Saints, until I have fully accomplished my mission in this life, and so firmly established the dispensation of the fullness of the priesthood in the last days, that all the powers of earth and hell can never prevail against it.

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This constant persecution reminds me of the words of the Savior, when He said to the Pharisees, "Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I shall be perfected." I suspect that my Heavenly Father has decreed that the Missourians shall not get me into their power; if they do, it will be because I do not keep out of their way.

I shall triumph over my enemies: I have begun to triumph over them at home, and I shall do it abroad. All those that rise up against me will surely feel the weight of their iniquity upon their own heads. Those that speak evil of me and the Saints are ignorant or abominable characters, and full of iniquity. All the fuss, and all the stir, and all the charges got up against me are like the jack-a-lantern, which cannot be found.

Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charged with doing: the wrong that I do is through the frailty of human nature, like other men. No man lives without fault. Do you think that even Jesus, if He were here, would be without fault in your eyes? His enemies said all manner of evil against Him—they all watched for iniquity in Him. How easy it was for Jesus to call out all the iniquity of the hearts of those whom He was among!

The servants of the Lord are required to guard against those things that are calculated to do the most evil. The little foxes spoil the vines—little evils do the most injury to the Church. If you have evil feelings, and speak of them to one another, it has a tendency to do mischief. These things result in those evils which are calculated to cut the throats of the heads of the Church.

When I do the best I can—when I am accomplishing the greatest good, then the most evils and wicked surmisings are got up against me. I would to God that you would be wise. I now counsel you, that if you know anything calculated to disturb the peace or injure the feelings of your brother or sister, hold your tongues, and the least harm will be done.

The Female Relief Society have taken a most active part in my welfare against my enemies, in petitioning to the governor in my behalf. These measures were all necessary. Do you not see that I foresaw what was coming, beforehand, by the spirit of prophecy? All these movements had an influence in my redemption from the hand of my enemies. If these measures had not been taken, more serious consequences would have resulted. I have come here to bless you. The Society have done well: their principles are to practice holiness. God loves you, and your prayers in my behalf shall avail much: let them not cease to ascend to God continually in my behalf. The enemies of this people will never get weary of their persecution against the Church, until they are overcome. I expect they will array everything against me that is in their power to control, and that we shall have a long and tremendous warfare. He that will war the true Christian warfare against the corruptions of these last days will have wicked men and angels of devils, and all the infernal powers of darkness continually arrayed against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you falsely, blessed are ye, &c. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No. If a man stands and opposes the world of sin, he may expect to have all wicked and corrupt spirits arrayed against him. But it will be but a little season, and all these afflictions will be turned away from us, inasmuch as we are faithful, and are not overcome by these evils. By seeing the blessings of the endowment rolling on, and the kingdom increasing and spreading from sea to sea, we shall rejoice that we were not overcome by these foolish things.

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A few very important things have been manifested to me in my absence respecting the doctrine of baptism for the death, which I shall communicate to the Saints next Sabbath, if nothing should occur to prevent me.

President Smith then addressed the throne of grace in fervent prayer.

The prayers of the society were requested in behalf of Mr. Repshaw.

President Joseph Smith remarked that Mrs. Repshaw had long since been advised to return to her husband. It has been ascertained, by good evidence, that she left her husband without just cause—that he is a moral man and a gentleman. She has got into a way of having revelations, but not the revelations of God. If she will go home and do her duty, we will pray for her; but, if not, our prayers will do her no good.

President Smith said, "I have one remark to make respecting the baptism for the dead to suffice for the time being, until I have opportunity to discuss the subject at greater length—all persons baptized for the dead must have a recorder present, that he may be an eyewitness to record and testify of the truth and validity of his record. It will be necessary, in the Grand Council, that these things be testified to by competent witnesses. Therefore let the recording and witnessing of baptisms for the dead be carefully attended to from this time forth. If there is any lack, it may be at the expense of our friends; they may not come forth."

Closed with prayer by Elder Derby.

Chapter 7.

1. It is not positively known what occasioned the writing of this essay; but when it is borne in mind that at this time the new law of marriage for the Church—marriage for eternity, including plurity of wives under some circumstances—was being introduced by the Prophet, it is very likely that the article was written with a view of applying the principles here expounded to the conditions created by introducing said marriage system.