Mormon Classics   |   Spalding Library   |   Bookshelf   |   Newspapers   |   History Vault



Sidney Rigdon,
The Real Founder of Mormonism




by:
William H. Whitsitt

BOOK  THE  FOURTH:
THE  MORMON  PERIOD: Nov. 8, 1830 -- Sep. 8, 1844
(Part A: Sections I and II, pp. 575-664)



Contents  |  Book   I  |  Book  II  |  Book  III  |  Book  IV:   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9  |  Book V
"Wm. Whitsitt: Insights into Early Mormonism"   |   Times & Seasons' Rigdon History


 


go back to: page 574


[575]



SECTION I:

THE  PROPHET'S  HEGIRA


Chapter I.
Sidney Goes to Fetch Joseph.

The result of the operations of the four missionaries in Kirtland was highly satisfactory. Mr. Rigdon, possibly, was weak enough even to chuckle over the turn which affairs had now taken. One hundred anf twenty-seven persons had been immersed, comprising it is presumed, the majority of the members of the Disciple church at Kirtland, and perhaps others in addition. Many of these were ordained to the apostleship or eldership, which at that time were one and the same office (D&C, 20:38). The period had not yet arrived when twelve of the elders should be selected from the balance, exalted above their brethren, and ordained to the exclusive office of the apostolate. Among those ordained during the last week of labor performed by the missionaries, were Sidney Rigdon, Isaac Morely, John Murdock, and Lyman Wight (Tullidge, p. 101).

Leaving the new fledged apostles or elders to provide for the edification and growth of the infant community, the missionaries said their adieux, perhaps on Monday, November 15th, and took their way towards the camps of the Lamanites, employing due care on the way to convey the new evangel to the Disciple brethren, wherever they might encounter them on the journey. They felt themselves so well entitled to claim and capture all of these, that on arriving in the vicinity of Sandusky






[576]



they represented Mr. Campbell and Walter Scott as having a share in the enterprise of translating the "plates," and as believers in the Book of Mormon (Millennial Harbinger, 1831, p. 98).

The religious excitement which had been constantly rising since the advent of the missionaries increased after their departure to enormous proportions. Numbers of the people had been immersed to the special end that they might work miracles (Howe, p. 103), and they were highly disposed to try their hands that way (Howe, p. 107), as Mr. Cowdery had attempted to do wonders, but apparently without any success (Howe, p. 114). Nevertheless, there was consolation for this failure in this circumstance that the ceremony of imposing hands for the purpose of conveying the Holy Spirit had been marvelously efficient under Cowdery's administration; the "operation at first produced an instantaneous prostration of body and mind," in many respects like the trouble that had been experienced by Newel Knight under the manipulation of Joseph at Colesville. The contortions of the body during these paroxysms were a prominent feature of early Mormonism, and must have afforded a sight that was horrible to witness (Howe, pp. 188-9).

Naturally the community were now much engaged to promote the conversion of the Lamanites or Indians, to whom the four missionaries had gone forth to proclaim the "fullness of the gospel." In the midst of their delirium the gift of tongues would fall upon them, and supporting themselves upon the stump of a fallen tree, on a fence, or other elevation, the poor creatures would harangue an imaginary






[577]



audience of their red-faced brethren, until assuming them to be all converted, when they would immediately lead them down into the water "for the remission of sins." In this exercise some of the unfortunates were not content without actually descending into the water where they might perform the motions of an imaginary immersion with a closer degree of verisimilitude. Ezra Booth says that, "these actors assumed the visage of the savage and so nearly imitated him, not only in language, but also in gestures and actions, that it seemed the soul and body were completely metamorphosed into the Indian. No doubt was then entertained but that it was an extraordinary work of the Lord, designed to prepare those young men for the Indian mission" (Howe, p. 184).

Three of their number, Burr Riggs, Edson Fuller, and another whose name Howe has withheld, possibly for the reason that he was a relative, received a commission to preach the gospel that was inscribed upon parchment and handed down directly from the skies. It was shortly transcribed upon a piece of paper, at the close of which operation it was immediately withdrawn by the celestial visitant. The text of this commission is supplied by Howe (p. 106) and is of considerable interest on account of the signature of the Saviour that is appended. The writer was possibly familiar with Indian pictography, and is supposed to have copied one of its characters for the present use. Booth reports that the transcript was read to the church, and the persons whose names it contained






[578]



were ordained to the Elder's office and sent into the world to preach" (Howe, p. 185). The Lamanite or Indian trait of Mormonism was now and here improved to its utmost possibilities.

Mr. Rigdon would observe this enormous excitement with a degree of complacency. He was aware that his Disciple brethren were looking on with concern and would embrace any fair opportunity that might be offered to expostulate with the church at Kirtland, and bring it back to the position which it held before these movements were inaugurated. Possibly he had information regarding the presence in the vicinity of Elder Walter Scott and Ebenezer Williams, who apparently were hovering about to observe and embrace whatever chance might be offered to resist the tide that was now in flood (Philo Dibble's Narrative, in Early Scenes of Church History, p. 76).

Moreover, the appearance of Mr. Campbell himself upon the scene was an emergency which might fall out any day; Sidney could not be sure how soon it would be necessary to encounter his former master, fresh from Bethany and in the towering passion. The church at Wellsburgh, Virginia. where the Campbells had kept their membership, ever since the Red Stone escapade of 1823, was minutely considering the exigency at Kirtland, and possibly already taking counsel regarding the course it would be feasible for them to pursue. Early in January 1831 they prepared a lengthy letter in the name of the society and forwarded it to the Church in Kirtland. in the hope of reducing the people there






[579]



It was dispatched by Thomas Campbell, who it was hoped would be able to restore peace and sanity to the perturbed community (Millennial Harbinger, pp. 97-100).

Mr. Rigdon could foresee that many expedients would be resorted to, and it was wise in him to provide that the enthusiasm of the Kirtlanders should be so intense that they would not give the messenger from Wellsburgh or any other person an opportunity to present his message or to be heard in relation to it.

On the other hand this extraordinary passion would accord with Rigdon's wishes, for the additional reason that it would render more easy the advent of Joseph, a consummation which he had been a long while scheming to effect, and which there was reason to provide for with the utmost caution.

Finally At last, when he fancied that the right moment had come, he quitted Kirtland to perform the work upon which his heart and thoughts had been fixed. About three weeks after his own immersion (Howe, p. 107), perhaps on Monday the 29th of November 1830, he set out on the journey to New York.

According to the testimony of Lucy Smith he arrived at the place where the Smith family were residing in Waterloo township of Seneca county on Sunday the 5th of December, at the moment when Joseph was engaged in preaching (Joseph Smith, p. 197). As a companion for this journey Sidney was honored with the company of Mr. Edward Partridge of






[580]



Painesville. Howe, who was well acquainted with him, reports that Partridge was "a very honest and industrious hatter, who had withal a comfortable stock of the good things of the world (p. 139). Smith presents a brief biography of Partridge which shows that in the first instance he was an advocate of the tenet of the universal restoration of mankind, but in the year 1828 this belief was altered. Himself and his wife were "baptized into the Campbellite church by Elder Sidney Rigdon" (Tullidge, p. 113). He walked with Rigdon in the Disciple communion until the visit of the four missionaries. When Smith [Sidney] began his journey to New York in the last days of November his brother Partridge joined him, for the purpose as he reported of investigating the bottom facts on the ground where they had fallen out. His investigation was not much protracted; Lucy Smith affirms that as soon as her son had closed his discourse on the 5th of December 1830, Partridge rose in the audience and signified his perversion, calling for immediate baptism (Joseph Smith, p. 180). The rite was delayed however, until the 11th of December (Tullidge, p. 113).

On the Tuesday following his arrival Sidney was provided with a revelation for his private benefit; it bears the date of December 7, 1830 (Howe, p. 107), and is numbered as section 35 in Pratt's edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. In addition to the circumstance already adverted to that it addresses Mr. Rigdon in the character of John the






[581]



Baptist, it also makes allusion to the fine frenzies that had followed the practice of imposing hands by Mr. Cowdery on his recent visit to Kirtland. This new expedient succeeded to so much admiration that Joseph was led to do an injustice to the Disciples who did not require this observance in order to communicate the Spirit. He says: "Thou didst baptize by water unto repentance, but they received not the Holy Ghost; but now I give unto thee a commandment that thou shalt baptize by water, and they shall receive the Hold Ghost by the laying on of hands, even as the apostles of old" (D.&C., 35, 5. 6). It was natural that a new aspirant for public patronage should represent the article he had for sale to be the best in the market-place.

The changed aspect of Smith towards the Disciples may likewise be observed in the revelation to Sidney. During the month of October, 1830, when he still believed that the entire community of the Disciples would rush at one impulse into the Mormon fold he handles them with the like distinguished consideration as was noted in the Book of Mormon: "And my vineyard has become corrupted every whit; and there is none which doeth good save it be a few; and they err in many instances, because of priestcrafts, all having corrupt minds" (D.&C., 33, 4). But now after he has received information from Sidney regarding the vigorous opposition that had been presented to the new and more complete reformation by certain Disciples in the vicinity of Kirtland, Joseph assumes a tone of more






[582]



acerbity declaring "there are none that doeth good except those who are ready to receive the fullness of my gospel" (D.&C., 35, 12). The period for indiscriminate compliments to the Disciples was now passed by. The millennialism which had been transmitted by natural descent from Walter Scott was also enforced (v. 15), and Sidney was specially charged with the function of explaining and defending the prophecies which his new chief should send forth: "And inasmuch as ye do not write, behold it shall be given unto him to prophesy: and thou shalt preach the gospel and call on the holy prophets to prove his words (v. 23).

A revelation was also given to Mr. Partridge, perhaps upon the occasion of his baptism on the 11th of December 1830 (D.&C., 36). Towards the end of December Joseph and Sidney began to turn their minds towards important business which had so long been contemplated, of removing the seat of the church to Kirtland (D.&C., 37, 1). But Sidney was still dubious of the consequences that might result from this change; he was always a coward in action, however courageous his speech might sound. Accordingly Joseph got a divine intimation to prepare the way before his footsteps by sending a forerunner to announce and prepare for his advent. "And again I say unto you that ye shall not go until ye have preached my gospel in those parts (Ohio), and strengthened up the church" (D.&C., 37, 2).






[582a]



A revelation was also conferred upon Mr. Partridge (D.&C., Section 36), just after his baptism at Fayette on the 11th of December 1830, and just before he had received the grace of the imposition of hands. His sins had been forgiven already in the sacrament of baptism (D.&C., 36, 1), and it was promised that he should speedily obtain the advantage of the Hold Ghost by the laying on of hands through the agency of Sidney (D.&C., 36, 2). He was also called to the ministry, and honored with a number of very desirable promises.

Towards the close of December Joseph and Sidney found themselves at Canandaigua, the county seat of Ontario county, a distance of thirty five miles from Fayette (Book of Commandments, Chapter. XXXIX, title), which was in some sort, a hazardous vicinity, for a prophet who might owe a number of trifling debts for which his neighbors would be eager to thrust him into prison. His father had only recently served out a term of imprisonment for debt in the jail at Canandaigua (Joseph Smith, pp. 163-75). It is possible that the couple were studious to avoid travel by daylight while they sojourned in such a perilous situation.

The object of the journey to Canandaigua is believed to have been to confer with Mr. W. W. Phelps, a broken-down politician of that part of the country, who may have signified his desire to try his fortune with the "Church of Christ." He was an avowed infidel






[582b]



who having been disappointed in his exertions to procure nomination by his party for the position of Lieutenant Governor of New York, was now involved in financial straits. He had, perhaps only recently, served a term in prison for his inability to discharge a small pecuniary obligation (Howe, p. 274).

In a letter dated at Canandaigua, January 15, 1831, Mr. Phelps makes mention of the circumstance that he had lately held a conversation of ten hours duration with Mr. Rigdon (Howe, pp. 273-4). It is entirely likely that the occasion he had in mind, referred to the visit that had been performed in Canandaigua (where the above epistle was dated) by the prophet and his henchman, in the latter portion of December 1830.

While they were in Canandaigua Joseph obtained the revelation which is marked Chap. XXXIX in the Book of Commandments, and Section 37 in the edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, by Mr. Pratt. Immediately after the arrival of Sidney in Fayette the pair had set their hands to a new translation of the Christian Scriptures, in which work considerable progress had been accomplished. They were now enjoined to lay aside this enterprise, and turn their minds towards the important business that had been so long in contemplation of removing to "the Ohio" (D.&C., 37, 1).

But Sidney was still dubious of the consequences that might result from this removal; he was always a coward in action, however courageous






[582c]



his speech might sound. Consequently Joseph got a divine intimation to prepare the way before his footsteps by sending a forerunner to announce and arrange for his coming: "And again I say unto you, that ye shall not go (to the Ohio) until ye have preached my gospel in those parts" (D.&C., 37, 2).

Mr. Smith on his part had also become aware of serious objections that were felt by certain New York members of the "Church of Christ," against leaving everything behind and immigrating in a body to Kirtland. The complaints were most pronounced in Colesville, where Joseph Knight, senior, would naturally be averse to surrender his comfortable farm, grist mill and carding factory for a wild goose chase of that complexion at the dead of winter. To the above injunction regarding the propriety of dispatching a forerunner to Kirtland he therefore added on his own account: "and have strengthened up the church, whithersoever it is found, and more especially in Colesville" (D.&C., 37, 2). It is clear to perceive that the act of removal was a ticklish procedure; to Sidney, because he felt apprehensions that the Kirtlanders would reject the rabble that should follow at the heels of the prophet; to Joseph, because he had information that caused him to fear that members who might be comfortably situated, and whose money it was important to finger, would elect to remain in quiet at their Eastern homes.






[583]



On the faith of the foregoing injunction, John Whitmer was sent forward to Kirtland at the close of the Conference which was held at Fayette, New York, on the 2d of January 1831. He carried with him a letter from Sidney that was written on the 4th of January, 1831 (Howe, pp. 110-111), and especially the revelation which Joseph had obtained for the benefit of the Conference. Sidney mentions a certain passage of that revelation touching the eternal inheritance of the saints in their Kirtland possessions (D.&C., 38, 19, 20). He even went a step farther than the revelation, and for their additional comfort informed them that Kirtland was the land of promise concerning which they had heard so often; that their village was the place of gathering appointed to the faithful, land that God had also dedicated to these uses all the lands situated and lying between Kirtland and the Pacific Ocean (Howe, p. 111).

Such glowing assurances carried the point he was in fear of losing; the silly people of Kirtland were immediately filled with impatience to behold Joseph and the scurvy company that should follow in his wake. Arms were now opened that it is possible would have been raised in for nothing but resistance if the advantages of the gathering to Kirtland had been drawn in colors less brilliant. The ends of the earth were upon them and they were in an ecstasy of delight that their retired hamlet should be so highly favored of the Lord.






[584]



With a view to effect the removal of the New York saints as well as to give fresh delight to the men of Kirtland it was further intimated that the church should speedily set up a government of its own which would be independent of the United States and of the state of Ohio, and over which the Lord himself should be the ruler (D.&C., 38, 21, 22). For this new and independent kingdom the Lord would provide a "Law," soon after the faithful should be established at Kirtland, and in addition all of them should be "endowed with power from on high" (D.&C., 38, 32). Considering these wonderful changes and benefits there is little wonder that the return of Sidney with the prophet should have been awaited with enthusiasm and impatience.

The third Conference (Fayette, January 2, 1831) was signalized by a notable event in the capture and conversion of a certain James Covill, who to all appearances might have been a man of prominence and property. In the belief that his adhesion was secure, Joseph hastily obtained a revelation for his special advantage (D.&C., Sect. 39). But the prophet had gone forward in this instance more rapidly than was justified by the result; on second thoughts Mr. Covill was brought round to a different conclusion, and refused to process any farther in the enterprise to which he had given his hand. It was therefore incumbent upon Joseph to obtain a second revelation in which an explanation was supplied alibi of the failure of his previous inspiration and of the defection of Covill (D.&C., Sect, 40).






[585]



Shortly after the middle of January, John Whitmer who had proceeded to Kirtland to carry the revelation referring to the gathering there, wrote to Joseph announcing the brilliant success of the project, and desiring the immediate presence of the prophet. As early as the required arrangements could be performed he was on the way, carrying with him besides his wife, four other persons, namely Sidney Rigdon, Edward Partridge, Ezra Thayer and Newel Knight. At every station where the company halted they sought opportunity to proclaim the "fullness of the gospel." Lucy Smith says they preached at her house in Waterloo township, also at the house of her son-in-law, Calvin Stoddard in Macedon township of Wayne county, and at the house of Preserved Harris, believed to be a brother of Martin's, who might have resided in the vicinity of Palmyra. Pomeroy Tucker is authority for the statement that Mr. Rigdon, through the influence of Martin Harris was admitted to preach one sermon in the hall of the Young Men's Association, within the limits of Palmyra.

The anxiety of Sidney regarding the reception that should be accorded to his new master in Kirtland was very earnest. By consequence he quitted the company at some point on the journey and went forward in order to reach the place several days in advance. According to the representations supplied by Mr. Howe his arrival must have occurred, before the date of January, 1831; he preached in Kirtland






[586]



on that day, and after a custom he had acquired among the Disciples challenged his opponents to dispute the tenets of Mormonism with him (Howe, p. 117).

Perhaps of set purpose and provision Joseph lagged several days in the rear, but he effected his entrance into the village before the first of February (Howe, pp. 112-113), and took up his residence for a season at the home of Newel K. Whitney (Tullidge, p. 112) of the mercantile firm of Gilbert & Whitney, the proprietors of the principal merchants' shop in the community (D.&C., 64, 26). To all appearances the warmth of his welcome was entirely satisfactory. Sidney had effected the design towards which he had long been scheming; he was now prepared to commence a vigorous campaign in favor of a "deformation" which he considered every way more thorough and desirable than the "current information" which Mr. Campbell had been proclaiming and leading.




 




[587]



Chapter II.
Swedenborgiana.
A New Translation of the Bible.

In respect to the matter of imitation, Mr. Rigdon was as incorrigible as any monkey. As soon as he perceived himself at the head of the "Current Reformation," Mr. Campbell had considered that it was incumbent upon him to send forth a translation of the Scriptures, for the reason that "all who attained to the honor of first reformers, attempted to give a translation of the scriptures in the vulgar tongue of the people they labored to reform" (Christian Baptist, p. 136). He did not have Hebrew enough to meddle with the Old Testament writings, nor Greek enough to trust himself to render the New Testament with decent correctness. Accordingly he neglected the Old Testament entirely; and sent forth the New Testament in the version which George Campbell, McKnight and Doddridge had given of the several portions of that volume. The first edition of Mr. Campbell's New Testament was published in the month of January 1826; it was now in a second, presumably unaltered edition. In the month of October 1832 a third edition was sent forth, and later still a fourth, stereotype edition.

Being now employed upon a more excellent Reformation than the one that was so dear to Mr. Campbell, Sidney felt himself engaged like all the other "first reformers" to exhibit the purity of his calling by a translation of the scriptures in the tongue of his people. Joseph






[588]



had received certain intimations touching this project as early as the month of June 1830, and, possibly at the first Conference of the "Church of Christ," had obtained a revelation for the purpose of opening the way towards such an indispensable enterprise. This revelation was in the shape of an introduction to the five books of Moses, and sets forth the incidents of a certain ancient interview between Moses and the Lord in preparation for the labor of composing the Pentateuch. It was never printed in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and may be found nowhere else than in the "Pearl of Great Price," pp. 1-4, and in "the Holy Scriptures, Translated and Corrected by the Spirit of Revelation. By Joseph Smith, Jr., the Seer," pp. 7-9.

But Sidney was moved by something more than a desire to walk closely in the footsteps of Mr. Campbell. It is conceived that sometime during the spring of the year 1830 a serious fit of Swedenborgianism had befallen him. Possibly this may have been derived from some wandering preacher of that faith, or it may have come from a stray copy of "The True Christian Religion," or of the Treatise upon "Heaven and Hell." The Book of Mormon would be now too far advanced in the process of printing to admit of a third redaction for the purpose of inserting this Swedenborgian "new light," but it was very desirable that some place might be found where it would be suitable to display its brilliancy.






[589]



A translation of the entire volume of the scriptures would serve the double end of placing him on a favorable footing with Mr. Campbell among the Disciples, and of supplying a convenient opportunity to give decent airing to his recently acquired ideas. If Mr. Smith had been in a situation to accomplish it he would have gone forward with the task of translating the Bible in the absence of Rigdon, but he did not feel any way equal to that business. In letters from Ohio, it is likely that the valued discoveries were duly explained to him, but as his wits had been too thick to catch a firm hold upon the "ancient gospel," even though it was set down in plain characters before his eyes, he felt sure that an effort to exhibit Sidney's recent fancies by means of a translation of the Book of Genesis would prove a failure. Nevertheless he was bold enough to insert one of the new crotchets in a revelation that was produced at the second Conference on the first of September 1830. With covert, but sufficiently apparent reference to the proposed version, he there says: "But remember that all my judgments are not given unto men: and as the words have gone forth out of my mouth, even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my spirit; for by the power of my spirit






[590]



created I them; yea all things both spiritual and temporal: firstly spiritual --secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, firstly, temporal -- and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work" (D.&C., 29, 30-32).

These words must have been wholly obscure to the persons who first received them; they were not explained till the translation of the first and second chapter of Genesis were completed several months later in December 1830. Mr. Rigdon's arrival in December was the signal for laying hand to the task which had been planned by divine revelation during the preceding June. In the revelation which greeted him on the 7th of December distinct allusion is had to it: "And a commandment I give unto thee, that thou shalt write for him; and the Scriptures shall be given, even as they are in mine own bosom, to the salvation of mine own elect" (D.&C., 35, 7).

The energies of the pair were employed on this concern until near the close of the month, when being in Canandaigua, Joseph had another revelation, which declared: ''Behold, I say unto you that it is not expedient in me that ye should translate any more until ye shall go to the Ohio" (D.&C., 37, 1). After the arrival in Ohio the first word that was uttered related to this enterprise: "and again, it is meet that my servant, Joseph Smith jun., should have a house built, in which to live and translate" (D.&C., 41, 7).






[591]



No direct information is supplied concerning the amount of progress that was achieved during the month of December 1830; it is clear, however, that they had written as far as the close of the 7th chapter of the Book of Genesis in Joseph Smith's version of the Bible. The revelation that was presented at the third conference on the 2d of January 1831 refers to an incident which is recorded nowhere else than in the 7th chapter of that version, namely: "I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into my own bosom" (D.&C., 34, 4). It is not in the least probable that this expression would have been uttered prior to the production of the "prophecy of Enoch" as recorded in the sixth and seventh chapters of Genesis, according to the rendering of Joseph and Sidney.

The fate of Joseph's revision of the scriptures has been of considerable interest. It was never given to the press during his lifetime, and at his death it was left in the possession of his wife, who retained it until the year 1867, when it was at last printed by the authorities of the "Re-organized Church," to which her sons and herself had meanwhile signified their adhesion. Nevertheless the most important portion of it, namely the first seven chapters of the Book of Genesis were circulated in manuscript by which means they became more or less familiar to numbers of the faithful. Portions of these chapters were at last printed at Liverpool by Mr. Willard Richards during the year 1851.






[592]



They occupy pages 1-17 in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price.

The disposition of Mormon theologians to tinker and tamper with their so-called inspired writings is very active. To appearances it would seem likely that these same theologians have no special confidence in the divine origin of the productions in question; else they would not be so ready to mend and mar them. The first edition of the Book of Mormon has been altered in many parts; the first edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants has been so shamefully handled as in several instances seriously to falsify the truth of history. In a word, every sacred text of the Mormons would seem to be more or less corrupted.

Glimpses of the original text of the first seven chapters of the Book of Genesis, as they were composed by Joseph and Sidney may be had in the second of the "Lectures on Faith," vv. 6-11; vv. 13-17; vv. 22-24, and vv. 26-29, if one will be at the pains to consult these citations as they stand in the Doctrine and Covenants of the fourth European edition, stereotyped, that was published at Liverpool in the year 1854.

Some of these citations were altered a trifle in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price, but in most instances the two copies agree exactly. In the Josephite Bible that was issued by the "Re-organized Church" in the year 1867, the original text as it stood in the character of Sidney Rigdon has been changed without much scruple. The appearance of this Josephite Bible in 1867 rendered






[593]



it desirable to issue a second and improved edition of the Pearl of Great Price. In this new edition which was sent forth in the year 1879, the first seven chapters of the Book of Genesis were printed apparently without alteration out of the corrupted Josephite Bible of the year 1867. They occupy 31 pages in the new edition, whereas they had filled only 17 pages in the first edition.

One of the most striking peculiarities of the original copy and likewise of the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price was the disuse of the "solemn style" of address; "you" and "your" were substituted for "thee," "thou" and "thine." This substitution occurs uniformly in the original text as seen in the early editions of the "Lectures on Faith"; it occurs very frequently in the first edition of the Pearl of Great Price, throughout the first 17 pages of the book. On the contrary the whole thing is erased from the Josephite Bible, where "thee" and "thine" are always employed, and "you" and "your" are not seen. As was to be expected this peculiarity has likewise been erased from the second edition of the Pearl of Great Price and from the "Lectures on Faith" in Orson Pratt's edition of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.

The alteration is unhappy by reason of the fact that it goes far to throw the historical inquirer off the track. Mr. Campbell could not abide the so-called "solemn style" in the Scriptures; he employed "you" and "yours" in the place of "thou" and "thine." This was an item of the dearest consequence to him; in his version of the New Testament it comes to light in a great number of passages.






[594]



As a pitifully slavish imitator of Mr. Campbell, Sidney also felt a great aversion against the "solemn" style." Consequently when like Mr. Campbell he laid his hand to the labor of translating the Scriptures, it was entirely out of his power to say such words as "thee" and "thou." Hence, it is maintained that his "you" and "your" are highly significant; they are a striking earmark to show the Disciple origin of the Mormon fraternity, and they should not be lightly dispensed with.

The other changes which have been made in the Josephite Bible's version of the first seven chapters of Genesis have not often been of a sort to produce any special alteration in the sense. It is therefore considered pertinent at this place to consult that version. It is easily accessible, and may be relied upon to state in the main part at least, such new points of doctrine as were embraced by Joseph and Sidney in the labors which they performed at Fayette during the month of December 1830.



 




[595]



Chapter III.
Swedenborgiana.

It has been signified above that the text of the first thirty pages of the current edition of the Pearl of Great Price corresponds as narrowly as possible with the version of the first seven chapters of the Book of Genesis that is supplied in the Holy Scriptures of the Re-organized Church, or Josephite Mormons. In the latter place however the material is divided into chapters and verses; consequently it is most convenient for purposes of citation. For that reason quotations will be made in the present chapter from the Mormon version of the Scriptures rather than from the other source mentioned.

No emendations of consequence are given in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis; it is only when he reached the Jehovistic narrative at Genesis 2, 4, that the theological skill of Sidney displays itself. Moses speaks there of the creation of "every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew." The explanation he was able to propose of this statement was considered by Mr. Rigdon to be a marvel of insight and inspiration. He adds: "For I the Lord created all things of which I have spoken, Spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth" (Genesis 2, 5). In other language Sidney conceived that there was first a spiritual world and secondly a natural world, just as Joseph had remarked in a revelation given at the second Conference (D.&C., 29, 31). It was therefore assumed that every word spoken regarding the






[596]



process of creation in Genesis 1, 1-2. 4, related to the formation of the spiritual world which was in existence before the natural world. To carry out this idea to more definite proportions Sidney further added: "And I the Lord God created all the children of men, and not yet a man to till the ground, for in heaven created I them, and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air" (Genesis 2, 6).

Nay he is so positive and persistent in this vagary that notwithstanding the distinct notice that is given of the previous existence of various animals in the first chapter of Genesis, he affirms that Adam was "the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also" (Genesis 2, 8). The intention of this proclamation is to declare that man was the first of the multitudinous aforesaid spiritual substances to be clothed upon with a material covering. To avoid leaving space for a misunderstanding he further specifies: "Nevertheless, all things were before created, but spiritually were they created, according to my word" (Genesis 2, 9).

The subject is further mentioned in connection with the history of Enoch, who in his time was honored with permission to "behold the spirits which God had created" (Genesis 6, 38). These spirits had not yet been supplied with a natural body, but their spiritual form was in the same shape as the human body they were destined to receive. The spirits of all the men who ever have been or ever will be in the world were created at the beginning; they must pass the time in the world of spirits until the period when by the operation






[597]



of the process of generation, bodies or "tabernacles" shall be provided wherein they may find a habitation among men. One of the high boasts of Sidney's new theology was to the effect that God "made the world, and men before they were in the flesh" (Genesis 6, 52).

The distinction between the spiritual and the natural estate was of much consequence to Mr. Rigdon. He was not content to draw the line at the human race; animals of the lower grades were just as fortunate as man in that regard, as likewise trees and vegetables. The natural was in each and every case provided with a spiritual counterpart. The good fortune of the vegetable kingdom is set forth at Gen. 2, 11: "And out of the ground, made I the Lord God to grow every tree naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man, and man could behold it." The intention of the writer is to declare that the spiritual counterpart of every tree was created at the beginning; only at this juncture was its natural counterpart, which was a material substance, was permitted to grow out of the ground.

Nay the tree of the field was even more highly favored: "it also became a living soul; for it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I the Lord created it; yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man" (Gen. 2, 11). Nothing whatever that was "prepared for the use of man" is without a spiritual to answer to its material substance.

It is not singular that a high position should be assigned to the beasts of the field: "They were also living souls,






[598]



for I God breathed into them the breath of life" (Gen. 2, 26).

The spiritual substance in every instance was supposed to correspond to the shape of the material substance, and it is presumed that wherever it was provided the object to which it was joined in case it had life was endowed with the advantages of a "living soul." Sidney exclaims: "Behold all things have their likeness; and all things are created and made to bear record of me; both things which are temporal and things which are spiritual" (Gen. 6, 66).

The distinction between the natural and the spiritual world in the sense above inculcated is a prominent feature of the tenets of Emanuel Swedenborg. In explaining the doctrine of "correspondences" that author affirms: "That there is in everything an internal and an external, and that the external depends on the internal, as the body on the soul is evident from every single thing in the world, when rightly viewed. With man this is manifest; his whole body is from the mind, and thence, in everything that proceeds from man there is an internal and an external; in every action of man there is the will of the mind, and in every expression there is the understanding of the mind; in like manner in each of the senses.

"In every bird and beast, yea in every insect and worm, there is an internal and an external; and also in every tree plant and twig; yea in every stone and particle of dust... The internal of the






[599]



small dust of the ground from which its external is inclined, is its tendency to make seeds vegetate; it exhales from its little bosom something which insinuates itself into the inmost parts of the seed, and produces this; and that internal follows its vegetation even to the new seed" (True Christian Religion, n. 785).

It was with reference to these "correspondences" that Sidney is believed to have claimed that "all things have their likeness" (Gen. 6, 66). The internal is by Swedenborg designated as the spiritual, but he is careful to guard against the supposition that the spiritual has no body. On the contrary it has a substantial but not a material body: "the substantial is the primitive of the material" (True Christian Religion, n. 79). Such is the similarity of the natural to the spiritual that persons are liable at death to pass a more or less extended period of time in the spiritual world without being aware that they have suffered a change.

Respecting the form of the substantial or spiritual element of man, Swedenborg taught that "the soul is a human form, from which nothing at all can be taken away, and to which nothing at all can be added...In a word, the soul is the man himself, because it is the inmost man; wherefore its form is fully and perfectly the human form" (True Christian Religion, n. 697). Sidney seems to hold that the same is true regarding the spiritual likeness of trees and beasts. He was also unable to perceive how anything might possess this spiritual counterpart






[600]



without having a soul; therefore he does not scruple to attribute to trees and beasts the high distinction of a living soul. It was of little concern to him whether Swedenborg had gone to that extreme or not; to his thinking that was a logical result of Swedenborg's tenets, and he was never in the custom of shunning what he esteemed to be logical results.

Swedenborg teaches that "natural things were created that they might clothe spiritual things, as the skin clothes the bodies of men and animals, and the rind and bark clothe the trunks and branches of trees" (True Christian Religion, n. 78). Mr. Rigdon was captivated by that notion, and brings it forward in the suggestion cited above to the effect that God "caused every tree to grow, naturally," for the purpose of clothing the spiritual tree which had been formed by divine wisdom at the beginning of the creation. He was very strenuously assured that the tree "was spiritual in the day that God created it, and that it remaineth in the [spiritual] sphere in which God created it" (Gen. 2, 11), even after the period when it might be clothed with a material form.

By consequence of his conception of the meaning of the first chapter of Genesis, Mr. Rigdon felt constrained to hold that all spiritual substances were created in the beginning, before any natural things were formed to clothe them. In this regard he was likely sensible of adding an improvement that he had added to the system of Swedenborg. As intimated above, it is a dear point of Mormonism






[601]



that "all things were before created, but spiritually were they created" (Gen. 2, 9). One of the main considerations upon which polygamy was supported is that men by the aid of many wives may prepare numerous habitations for the multitudes of spirits that were created in the beginning, but have never yet enjoyed the benefits of walking forth among men (D.&C., 132, 63. Compare also 49, 17).

The first undeniable profession of anthropomorphism on the part of Mr. Rigdon may be found in this translation at Gen. 6, 9. The exact words are: "In the day that God created man (in the likeness of God made he him) in the image of his own body, male and female, created he them." From the circumstance that Swedenborg also very decidedly inclines towards that form of thought it has been considered reasonable to suppose that the impulse in that direction may have been derived from him. He remarks: "Unless an idea be formed of God, that he is the first substance and form, and of his form that it is the very human, the mind of man would readily imbibe idle fancies, like spectres, concerning God himself, the origin of man, and the creation of the world" (True Christian Religion, n. 20). In another place he adds: "There can be no conjunction with an invisible God" (as above, n. 786).

It is freely allowed that there are numerous sources whence the tendency towards this opinion might be conveyed, but as the earliest notice of it occurs in a document where Mr. Rigdon






[602]



was evidently taking counsel with Swedenborg upon other points, there can be no valid objection to the supposition that Swedenborg has the honor of supplying the feature of anthropomorphism to the Mormon system.

Sidney is also suspected of being indebted to Swedenborg for certain views that were promulgated during the New York visit concerning the future state. In the revelation of the 2d of January 1831, in which Joseph gave himself to the double task of persuading his eastern followers to gather at Kirtland, and the Kirtlanders in their turn to be content with such a highly inconvenient consummation the prophet says: "And I hold forth and deign to give unto you greater riches, even a land of promise, a land flowing with milk and honey, upon which there shall be no curse when the Lord cometh; and I will give it unto you for the land of your inheritance, if you seek it with all your hearts: and this shall be my covenant with you, ye shall have it for the land of your inheritance, and for the inheritance of your children forever, while the earth shall stand, and ye shall possess it again in eternity, no more to pass away" (D.&C., 38, 18-20).

Special attention is desired to the circumstance that the Mormons were promised that they should possess their lands again in eternity, which is believed to have been in some sort a corruption of the teachings of Swedenborg touching the future state. He affirms indeed that spaces and times are in the spiritual world, otherwise the whole






[603]



of it "might be drawn through the eye of a needle or concentrated upon the point of a single hair" (True Christian Religion, n. 29). It was, therefore, in his estimation something more than a mere state. Further, Swedenborg reprobated the opinion that the Lord at his coming will destroy the visible heaven and the habitable earth (as above, n. 789), and affirmed that man is equally a man after death, although he does not then appear to the eyes of the material body (as above, n. 793).

With these expressions Sidney might well have connected the innumerable assertions of Swedenborg to the effect that "man lives a man after death, just as he did before in the world; that he sees, hears, speaks as before in the world; that he is clothed and adorned as before in the world; that he hungers and thirsts, eats and drinks as before in the world; that he enjoys conjugal delights as before in the world; that he sleeps as before in the world...in a word that there are all things and everything that there is in the earth" (as above, n. 693). By consequence he did not consider that it was too much for Joseph to promise the Kirtlanders an eternal title to their real estate, and to give covert intimations that all who might go thither to found a home would enjoy the same advantages. Indeed it has been shown how Sidney went even farther than Joseph and assured his brethren that the promised land to which the prophet made allusion, extended from Kirtland to the Pacific Ocean (Howe, p. 111).






[604]



Great uses were made of the discovery that the promised land existed in the west and was designed to be a place of eternal inheritance. For the purpose of inducing the Mormons of New York to remove thither they were promised upon their arrival the benefits of a theocracy (D.&C., 38, 22); of a divine law under which its affairs should be administered (33, 32), and assured that there they would be a righteous people. In this connection Joseph perpetrated another absurd mistake, which however his claim to divine revelation rendered it inconvenient to correct. The New York Mormons were likewise assured that in "the Ohio" they should be "endowed with power from on high" (D.&C., 38, 32). His intention was to cite the words of Jesus where he bade his disciples to "tarry in Jerusalem until they should be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24, 49). Mr. Smith had never recognized the difference between the words "endued" and "endowed"; it was therefore perfectly natural for him to effect an unlawful exchange of the two. This blunder runs all through the course of Mormon history. The so-called "Endowment House" is one of the prominent buildings at Salt Lake City.

Over against these blessings the prophet also places the dangers of continuing in New York, as an additional incitement towards a speedy removal of the faithful. He enjoined upon the missionaries whom he shortly after sent forth from Kirtland to represent that point to






[605]



their converts: "And let him that goeth to the east teach them that shall be converted to flee to the west, and this in consequence of that which is coming on the earth, and of secret combinations" (D.&C., 42, 64). The Masonic crusade had scarcely yet spent its force in New York, and Joseph warns his people to escape for their lives from a commonwealth that was vexed by "secret combinations" of that complexion. It was not admissible to form a settled church in New York, because of the impending disaster; all of the members of the "church of Christ" in that portion of the earth must make it their earliest care to "gather" at the west. In the west, on the other hand, it was in order to build up churches which should not be required immediately to "gather" with the saints (D.&C., 45, 64).

Howe declares (p. 116), that the believers were "privately told that the state of New York would most probably be sunk, unless the people thereof believed in the pretensions of Smith." Joseph never for a moment had any fears of this color; the story was set afloat to procure the speedy removal of his adherents to the west where they would be more nearly under his observation, and more directly subject to his pecuniary levies.

The notion of Swedenborg concerning the occupations of the future world appears to have made a profound impression upon the mind of Mr. Smith. Especially his circumstance that man was represented there as being in the enjoyment of conjugal delights just as in this world, was an opinion that






[606]



tickled his fancy. He dwelt upon it until the year 1843, until he had occasion to send forth his famous revelation regarding plurality of wives. There he stipulated that these parties whose marital union should chance to be "sealed" by the authority of the "church of Christ" would retain that connection in heaven. They were declared to be "married for eternity," while such as had been joined together by any other authority were only married for time, and could not expect to enjoy each others' society in the better land. He further indicated by way of improving the conception of Swedenborg, that married couples in heaven would continue to produce children, just as they had done her on earth (D.&C., 132, 19).



 




[607]



Chapter IV.
Other Changes, Doctrinal and Practical.

The Swedenborgian tenets of Mormonism are chiefly vented in the first two chapters of the new version of the book of Genesis. In these and other five chapters here under review are several other points that require observation.

The notion which Mr. Campbell is credited with having borrowed from the Congregationalist Rev. William Cudworth to the effect that all the converting power of the Holy Spirit is exhibited in the written word; which in the dialect of Bethany was known as the "word alone system," had been laid down with sufficient clearness in nine several "Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men" that were published in the Christian Baptist during the year 1824 and 1825. This subject had been of much consequence in the thought of Campbell, and in the year 1831 he tried his hand upon it a second time in a famous Dialogue between Timothy and Austin touching "The Whole Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men." In the former place the positions he is believed to have derived from Cudworth are set forth distinctly enough but somewhat less offensively than as the case in this Dialogue.

Traces of this form of thought were pointed out in the Book of Mormon; they are still more evident in the version of Genesis. Mr. Campbell was understood by a number of people who gave themselves much






[608]



care to study the shape which his opinions were assuming to be an enemy to the doctrine regarding the personality of the Holy Spirit; the Spirit had exhausted itself in the labor of bestowing the scriptures and now exerted nothing beyond a moral influence by means of the written word (Christian Baptist, pp. 124-6). The influence of these speculations upon Sidney appears in the shape of a degradation of the Holy Spirit from his place in the Trinity. It is granted that he still permits the Spirit to "bear record of the Father and the Son" (Gen. 4, 9), just as he did in the Book of Mormon, but that record is conceived to have been performed merely by the agency of the scriptures. Consequently when any council of the persons of the Godhead takes place in his version of Genesis the Spirit is not allowed the honor to attend it. For instance: "And I God said unto mine Only Begotten Son, which was with me from the beginning. Let us make man in our image and after our likeness; and it was so" (Gen. 1, 27). "And I the Lord God said unto mine Only Begotten that it was not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2, 23). "And I the Lord God said unto mine Only Begotten, Behold, the man is become as one of us to know good and evil" (Gen. 3, 28).

This tendency to degrade the Holy Spirit became still more apparent after the publication of Mr. Campbell's Dialogue between Timothy and Austin. Several years later when Sidney was composing the "Lectures on Faith" he is understood to have driven the Holy Spirit quite outside of the Trinity, and to have left for the worship of the faithful a dual divinity in the place of a Triune God. There the






[609]



Spirit has entirely lost his personality, and is reduced to the position of being merely the mind of the Father and the Son (Lectures on Faith, 5, 2).

Cain as the first murderer is set forth as in the Book of Mormon to be the founder of the Masonic fraternity (Gen. 5, 10). He is even designated by the title of Master Mahan (Gen. 5, 16), which is near enough to "Master Mason" to be easily comprehended. The oath which Wm. Morgan in his revelation of Masonic rituals had attributed to the "Entered Apprentice" is intimated with sufficient clearness at Gen. 5, 14. Lamech is declared to have slain Irad the son of Enoch for the identical same reason as it was given out that Wm. Morgan was slain in the year 1826 (Gen. 5, 35-6). It was a sad inconsistency that gentlemen who did as much to persecute and destroy Masonry in New York should themselves have become so ardently devoted to it ten years later in the state of Illinois.

The "language of Adam" is mentioned more than once in the section of Genesis under review. For instance: "And a book of remembrance was kept in the which was recorded in the language of Adam, for it was given unto as many as called upon God, to write by the spirit of inspiration" (Gen. 6, 5. Compare also Gen. 6, 47. 60).

When Brigham Young first made his appearance at Kirtland in November 1832, on being called upon to lead in family worship, he fell into the stupid babble that in those days often passed for speaking in






[610]



tongues, and as soon as the accents came to the ears of Joseph he recognized them as "the pure Adamic language" (Tullidge, p. 146). Brigham, however, lived long enough to become sensible of the silliness of this gift of tongues, and did what lay in his power within the circle of his own family to discourage the practice (Stenhouse, p. 650, note).

Attention has just now been cited to the "word alone system" as advocated by Mr. Campbell in the Christian Baptist and still more distinctly in the Dialogue between Timothy and Austin. Having exhausted his force in giving the word, the Holy Spirit has no powers to operate in connection with the reading of the word of truth, but must be content with the moral effect which that reading might produce, in the same manner as any other author of books. Inasmuch as the Spirit was debarred from operating in connection with the reading of the word of God, Mr. Campbell advanced to the conclusion that "evidence alone produces faith, or testimony is all that is necessary to faith" (Christian Baptist, p. 58). Perhaps it was in consequence of this exorbitant estimation of the convincing force of testimony, as the same is delivered in the Scriptures, that Mr. Campbell was induced to cast overboard all those evidences for the existence of a God, which have been supposed by the ablest philosophers to be derived from natural religion, and "boldly took the ground that no one from nature alone could ever acquire






[611]



the notion of God" (Richardson, p. 230). This thesis, which apparently he had borrowed from his friend the Rev. Dr. Fishback, was defended with much logomachy in the debate he had the honor to hold with Mr. Robert Owen.

Almost as a matter of course it was likewise supported by Mr. Rigdon, who was very studious to re-echo the conclusions of Campbell or Scott (Lectures on Faith, 2, 4; 3, 7). The entire knowledge of the existence of God being derived from a personal revelation of the Deity to his creatures, Mr. Rigdon is careful in those "Lectures on Faith" to indicate just how that divine testimony had descended from sire to son; for according to Mr. Campbell it was evidence alone which produced faith. To make sure of this train of succession throughout the ages Mr. Rigdon adopts the fantastic process of making each of the patriarchs, beginning with Adam, to be members of a divine priesthood in whose keeping alone the secret of God's existence since the earliest theophanies could be kept secure (Gen. 6, 7. 70; 8, 7).

Chapters six and seven of this version contain the celebrated "prophecy of Enoch," which Mr. Smith, having observed to be mentioned in the Epistle of Jude (v. 14), concluded it would be a meritorious service if he should supply a copy of it by the aid of his inspiration. It is embraced between Gen. 6, 27 and 7, 78, and contains more than one germ that afterwards bore much fruit in Mormonism. For example it somewhat tellingly identified the patriarch Enoch with Joseph Smith (Gen. 6, 32. 33);






[612]



imparts information to the effect that the said Enoch builded a city which was "called the city of Holiness, even Zion" (7, 25); that this city of Zion, as well as the patriarch who founded it, was taken up to the bosom of God (7, 27. 38. 54); that the Lord would return to the earth in the age of Mr. Smith to bestow the repose of the Millennium upon the earth (7, 65-9); that he would then establish a "holy city" upon the earth, and when this had been accomplished the city of Enoch or Zion should descend from the bosom of God to meet the "holy city" that had been builded on the earth (7, 70-1); that this "holy city" should be called Zion, and "for the space of a thousand years shall the earth rest" (7, 70. 72).

It was little wonder that immediately after the arrival of Joseph at Kirtland "the city" was a theme of universal comment, and the place where it should be situated a question of intense curiosity (D.&C., 45, 66-72; 48, 4-6). When the site of it was definitely confirmed at Independence, Missouri, it was naturally called Zion, after the revelations that had come to light so marvelously in the long lost "prophesy of Enoch," concerning which the Apostle Jude had discoursed with so much fervor.

It may also be of consequence to observe the conflict that here went forward between Sidney and Joseph regarding the terms of the "ancient gospel." The circumstance will be recalled that on the first of June 1830, when the latter was sending forth what he then designated






[613]



as the "Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ," he had assumed the liberty to add a sixth to the "Five Points of Campbellism," namely the provision enjoining the imposition of hands between remission and the gift of the Holy Spirit (D.&C., 20, 41. 43). Mr. Rigdon having now come nigh does what he may to ignore that unwelcome innovation; every time in this version when it is necessary to recite the conditions of the "ancient gospel," the item requiring the imposition of hands is quietly ignored, and the five points are given after the model of Disciple orthodoxy. A pertinent illustration may be cited in the baptism of Adam the first man, as follows: "And it came to pass when the Lord had spoken with Adam our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water; and thus he was baptized. And the spirit of God descended upon him, and thus he was born of the Spirit, and became quickened in the inner man. And he heard a voice out of heaven saying, Thou art baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost; this is the record of the Father and the Son, from henceforth and forever" (Gen. 6, 67-69).

Again with reference to the curse of Adam: "And he also said unto him, if thou wilt turn unto me and hearken unto my voice and believe and repent of all thy transgressions, and be baptized even in water, in the name of mine Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and






[614]



truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name which shall be given under heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Gen. 6, 53).

Both of these passages are devoted to the elucidation of the "ancient gospel" and in each of them the gift of the Holy Spirit followed baptism without the necessity of imposing any hands; Mr. Rigdon was clear in the conviction that it would be unwise to go back to Kirtland with the alteration of a jot or a tittle of those five points, as the same had been arranged and enforced by Walter Scott. The same purpose is likewise exhibited in the declaration of the items of the "ancient gospel" at Gen. 8, 11.

But Joseph had no such piety as Rigdon entertained towards Campbell and Scott. Consequently he insisted upon the alteration he had introduced. In revelations of his own which occurred during Sidney's present visit to New York, he considers that he has a right to his own opinion, and unhesitatingly insists upon the imposition of hands (D.&C., 39, 23).

This chapter may be concluded with a singular illustration of the process by which the "ancient gospel" effects salvation, that has been drawn from the facts of natural birth; it would be of interest to be certified whether any others of the early Disciple preachers were in the custom of employing it to enforce the correctness of their theological opinions. It is stated in the following words: "Therefore I give






[615]



"And inasmuch as ye were born into the world by water and blood, and the spirit which I have made, and so became of dust a living soul; even so must ye be born again into the kingdom of heaven, of water and of the spirit, and be cleansed by the blood of mine Only Begotten" (Gen. 6, 61-2).






 

[615a-b]



SECTION II:

SOURCE OF ALL MORMON SORROWS


Chapter I.
The Theocracy.

It was a leading item of Mr. Rigdon's scheme from the onset to establish a theocracy; he could not preceive how else it would be possible to "speak where the Scriptures speak," at least in the Old Testament portion of the record. By conequence a theocracy is often with sufficient clearness untimated in the Book of Mormon; it is likewise provided for in the earlier Sections of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. Most likely it was due to the suggestions of Mr. Rigdon that Joseph put forth the following feeler about the first of September 1830"
And as the words have gone forth out of my mouth, even so shall they be fulfilled, that the first shall be last, and that the last shall be first in all things whatsoever I have created by the word of my power, which is the power of my Spirit; for by the power of my Spirit created I them; yea, all things both spiritual and temporal: firstly spiritual-secondly temporal, which is the beginning of my work; and again, firstly temporal, and secondly spiritual, which is the last of my work; speaking unto you that you may naturally understand, but unto myself my works have no end, neither beginning; but it is given unto you that ye may understand, because ye have asked it of me and are agreed. Wherefore, verily I say unto you, that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which is temporal; neither by men nor the children of men;





[615c]



neither Adam your father whom I created. Behold I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself; and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I unto him, for my commandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor temporal, neither carnal nor sensual (D.&C., 29, 30-35).
In brief everything from the beginning led upwards to the kingdom which was theirs (D.&C., 38, 9. 15), in which the spiritual should always have precedence over the temporal. In this kingdom they were to have no king nor ruler, except Jesus Christ who alone should be their king to watch over them (D.&C., 38, 21). The notion could not well be endured that the United States or any other authority should exercise sovereignty over them; the Savior had said to them: I will be your Ruler when I come; and behold I come quickly, and ye shall see that my law is kept (D.&C., 41, 4).

In this theocratic kingdom they were likewise not expected to be subject to the laws of the General Government or of any of the separate states of the country. On the contrary Jesus declares to them, "ye shall have no laws but my laws, when I come for I am your Lawgiver, and what can stay my hand?" (D.&C., 38, 22). They exulted much in the prospect that they should be "a free people" (D.&C., 38, 22).

This equality and excellent freedom was held out to the faithful in the state of New York as an incentive for removing to Ohio, where the new "Law" should be announced and Messiah should set up his kingdom: "Wherefore, for this cause I gave unto you the commandment that ye should go to the






[615d]



Ohio; and there I will give you my law; and there you shall be endowed with power from on high" (D.&C., 38, 32).

It has been signified above that the arrival of the prophet in Kirtland, Ohio, fell out before the close of January 1831; possibly he was present to hear the sermon which Sidney delivered there on Sunday the 30th of January. On Friday the 4th of February he got a revelation, the first that was bestowed in Kirtland, in which he set the people to praying for the "Law" that had been promised in New York, and which it is likely he was then busily concocting in his own mind. He gave them solemn assurance to the effect that "by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church, and have all things right before me" (D.&C., 41, 3).

When their emotions had been duly wrought up by a sense of the blessings that should be conferred by this "Law," Joseph appeared on Wednesday the 9th of February for the purpose of communicating it. The document has been preserved in Section 42 of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; in the Book of Commandments, however, it is numbered Chapter XLIV.

The first 17 verses of the performance are occupied by an address to twelve elders assembled in Kirtland, Ohio (Book of Commandments, Chapter XLIV, title). When the prophet had duly discharged his mind of the topics which he had provided for the special benefit of the said elders he turns away from them and declares, "now, behold, I speak unto the church" (D.&C., 42, 18).






[615e]



The boasted "Law" which is here enacted for the benefit of the church embraces all the matter that lies between verses 18 and 73 of Mr. Orson Pratt's edition. By the candid critic it must be considered as a very awkward and incomplete affair. Mr. Smith himself was aware of its incompleteness, and in effect makes apologies for it (D.&C., 42, 56-62). But the significant feature is that it should have been given at all; that the laws of his country were no longer sufficient, and the prophet felt under the necessity of providing a different and higher law. Here opens the first act in that long course of rebellion against the civil government, which has brought indescribable sorrow upon the Mormons.

But these rasius have their temporal as well as their spiritual aspectsand concerns. It was plain to perceive that in...






[615f]



Turning now to make a brief review of the document under investigation it will be perceived that the first division of it is devoted to a series of moral commands.










[615g]



which are delivered in a fashion that recalls the provisions of the Mosaic dialogue. For example he says: Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. And again I say thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die (D.&C., 42, 18. 19).

Whether it was in the mind of Joseph to erect a private gibbet in Kirtland for the behoof of those who might commit murder among his own adherents must remain an open question; if that purpose was ever seriously entertained, it was not for long. The obstacles in the way of such an enterprise were every way too important to be surmounted. Capital punishment is not affixed to any other offence in the entire catalogue of crimes that are embraced in his recital. For instance when he enjoins to abstain from offences like stealing, lying, adultery and speaking evil of one's neighbor, the only penalty that is affixed to a violation of these prohibitions consists in being "cast out," which is supposed to signify nothing more than excision from the Mormon fraternity (D.&C., 42, 20-28).

But the principal reason for which the "Law" was given was to establish not moral but civil or secular enactments. These relate in the first place to the much desired equality of worldly goods which is so often praised in the Book of Mormon, and was an object of exertion among the Sandemanians. Joseph in this place lays down a plan by means of which the advantages of complete equality might accrue to his disciples. The outlines of this plan may be given in his own language, cited not from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, which






[615h]



has been altered and corrupted at this point, but rather from the Book of Commandments, Chapter XLIV, 26-32:

"If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments; and behold, thou shalt consecrate all thy properties-that which thou hast-unto me with a covenant and a deed which can not be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church and two of the elders such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose. And it shall come to pass that the bishop of my church after that he has received the properties of my church, that it cannot be taken from the church, he shall appoint every man a steward over his own property, or that which he has received, inasmuch as it is sufficient for himself and family: and the residue shall be kept to administer to him who has not, that every man may receive according as he stands in need: and the residue shall be kept in my storehouse, to administer to the poor and needy, as shall be appointed by the elders of the church and the bishop; and for the purpose of purchasing lands, and the building up of the New Jerusalem which is hereafter to be revealed, that my covenant people may be gathered in one, in the day that I shall come to my temple. And this I do for the salvation of my people. And it shall come to pass that he that sinneth and repenteth not shall be cast out, and shall not receive again that which he has consecrated unto me: for it shall come to pass that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles unto my people which are of the house of Israel.






[615i-j]



This was the hardest kind of doctrine for men of comfortable estates like Martin Harris, Joseph Knight, sen., and Edward Partridge; one cannot wonder that it was altered and modified in subsequent editions. It was not possible for the prophet to execute the arrangement there proposed either at Kirtland or at the New Jerusalem in Jackson county, Missouri.

Next to the above law of consecration and distribution follow a couple of items of police regarding abstention from luxury, on the one hand, and from idleness on the other (D.&C., 42, 40-42).

Provision is also made for the care of the sick and for decent bestowal of the dead:

"And whosoever among you are sick, and have not faith to be healed, but believe, shall be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy. And the elders of the church, two or more shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me. Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die, and more especially for those that have not hope of a glorious resurrection. And it shall come to pass that those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; and they that die not in me, wo unto them for their death is bitter. And again it shall come to pass that he that hath faith






[615k]



in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death shall be healed; he who hath faith to see shall see; he who hath faith to hear shall hear, the lame who hath faith to leap shall leap; and they that have not faith to do these things, but believe in me have power to become my sons; and insomuch as they break not my laws, thou shalt bear their infirmities (D.&C., 42, 43-52).
The prophet was such a firm believer in the efficacy of the faith cure that he seriously proposed in his mind to abolish the use of medicine from the precincts of his community, as far as it was possible to accomplish that end. Nevertheless it was plain that cases would arise in which the faith of worthy brethren would not avail, and it would be indispensable to call the physician. In such emergencies it was prescribed, in verse 43 above, that the patient should be "nourished with herbs and mild food, and that not by the hand of an enemy." This concession to the herb doctors was likely made for the benefit of Hiram Page and Frederic G. Williams, both of whom were Thompsonian practitioners, as was possibly Thomas B. Marsh also.

The next word is addressed to those who should be raised from abject poverty to comparative wealth by being placed in charge of a "stewardship." They are counseled on the one hand not to be a burden to their neighbors, but to pay for what they should receive (D.&C., 42, 53-4). On the contrary if they should be industrious enough to earn more than might be required to supply the necessities of themselves and their families, the surplus was enjoined to be surrendered to






[615l]



the Lord's storehouse, "that all things may be done according to that which I have said" (D.&C., 42, 55).

The mind of the prophet was impressed by the fact that the above was a contemptibly ragged and incomplete code of laws, but he tries to conceal its defects by pointing to the new translation of the Bible which himself and Sidney had commenced a short while since in New York: "Thou shalt ask and my Scriptures shall be given as I have appointed, and they shall be preserved in safety" (D.&C., 42, 56). Furthermore, it was promised that the faithful should receive "revelation upon revelation and knowledge upon knowledge" (D.&C., 42, 61). As if these were not satisfactory it was also indicated that they "should hereafter receive church covenants, such as should be sufficient to establish them both here and in the New Jerusalem" (D.&C., 42, 67).

By way of appendix it was provided in conclusion that the lower members of the hierarchy, such as priests and teachers, should obtain a "stewardship" in the same way as laymen. The elders who were appointed to assist the bishop were to have their families provided for out of the cash funds that should remain in the hand of the bishop, but in case it was preferred they might also be granted a "stewardship." The bishop on the contrary was too important a personage to be vexed with the petty cares of a "stewardship"; he must receive his support in money, and it was to be "a just remuneration for all his services in the church" (D.&C., 42, 70-73).






[615m]



One of the most renowned provisions of this "Law" was conveyed in the following words: "Thou shalt contract no debts with the world." It was not more than thirty days after that prohibition was communicated before it became eminently desirable to get quit of it. At the fourth Conference which is believed to have been held on the 7th and 8th of March 1831 (D.&C., Sections 45-7), Mr. Booth reports that Bishop Edward Partridge "received a tremendous shock, from which with difficulty he recovered. The law of the church enjoins that no debt shall be contracted with the world. But a thousand acres of land could be purchased in the township of Thompson for one half its value, and he was commanded to secure it; and in order to do it he was under the necessity to contract a debt with the world. He hesitated, but the command was repeated "you must secure the land" (Howe, p. 201).

It was upon this occasion that Joseph showed his dexterity in altering the injunction in question so that it should read as it now stands in the Book of Commandments, Chapter XLIV, 55: "Thou shalt contract no debts with the world, except thou art commanded."

It later disappeared entirely from the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; not a trace of it in any form has been left behind in recent editions.



 



[615n]



Chapter II.
A New Theocratic Officer.

In the preceding chapter reference was more than once had to the bishop, a new officer of the theocracy whose title had not been mentioned before. He occupied the functions of secular administration, and became the leading vehicle through which the "church of Christ" should communicate with the world of business outside of their borders. In fact from what was signified above it will appear that the bishop was made a sort of Trustee in trust for the purpose of holding and managing any public property of the community. Theocracies must of necessity exhibit their secular as well as their spiritual aspects; they cannot avoid to cultivate their temporal as well as their eternal concerns.

The earliest suggestion looking towards the appointment of an officer for secular administration fell out in the state of New York. On the 2d of January 1831, when the prophet was making preparations to remove the faithful to their new home in Ohio, he produced a revelation that was expressed in the following terms:

"And now I give unto the church in these parts, a commandment that certain men among them shall be appointed, and they shall be appointed by the voice of the church; and they shall look to the poor and needy, and administer to their relief, that they shall not suffer; and send them forth to the place which I have commanded them; and this shall be their work to govern the affairs of the property of this church (D.&C., 38, 34-6).






[615o]



It is suspected that after due trial had in the operation of moving from New York it was perceived that the above scheme did not work to admiration. A month of experience had served the purpose of altering the project in such a way as to fix the burden of responsibility more nearly and more clearly than was the case in the first suggestion. On the 4th of February 1831 the following alteration was announced by means of divine revelation:

"And again, I have called my servant Edward Partridge, and give a commandment that he should be appointed by the voice of the church, and ordained a bishop unto the church, to leave his merchandise and to spend all his time in the labors of the church; to see to all things as it shall be appointed unto him in my laws in the day that I shall give them. And this because his heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathaniel of old, in whom there is no guile" (D.&C., 41, 9-11).
The change here recited was made with special reference to the "law" which Joseph was expecting to produce on the 9th of February, in which it has been shown that each member of the church was expected "to consecrate all his properties" unto the Lord with "a covenant and a deed which cannot be broken; and they shall be laid before the bishop of my church, and two of the elders such as he shall appoint and set apart for that purpose" (Book of Commandments, Chapter 44, 26).






[615p]



The two elders mentioned in the above citation, constitute a still further development of the scheme of Mr. Smith regarding the bishop. They were not contemplated in the original appointment of Edward Partridge on the 4th of February, but they are virtually enjoined on the 9th of that month. It is worthy of observation that originally the number of assistants was not confined to two elders; on the contrary, it was feasible to appoint as many of them as might be considered necessary to fulfill the demands of a given emergency (Book of Commandments, XLIV, 57). In later years the number was reduced to two for every conceivable occasion, and these were honored with the title of "counselors" (D.&C., 42, 71). It was natural in the beginning that none but elders should be preferred to the dignity of bishop's counselor, but in later years when the dignity of High Priest had been invented, the counselors were preferably chosen from the ranks of these more exalted characters (D.&C., 42, 71, note).

It will not be difficult to perceive from the above representation that the station of bishop was of the highest consequence. If Joseph was the foremost spiritual officer of the theocracy, Mr. Partridge was its first secular officer, and upon occasion it was possible for him to become a dangerous and even successful rival of the prophet.

The fact that he occupied the position of Trustee in trust and managed all the public finances of the community, would render






[615q]



his influence predominant. It can be no occasion for surprise that after the death of Mr. Partridge, Mr. Smith should have got himself appointed as sole Trustee in trust for the church at Nauvoo on the 30th of January 1841, even though to accomplish this purpose it was necessary to violate the charter of the town which required more than one of these Trustees in trust (Bennett, Mormonism Exposed, p. 96). Nothing else than the merest inexperience could have brought him at any period to permit that a power of the sort in question should have been lodged in the keeping of another person.

While it is conceded that Joseph had established a theocracy, yet it is plain that it lacked something of being an absolute theocracy. When the brethren who were fortunate enough to possess a comfortable estate were yet silly enough to convey their property to the bishop of the church that process was effected by means of a deed of writing before the constituted authorities of the civil government; in no other way was it possible to obtain "a deed that could not be broken." To this extent at least it was proposed to lean upon the civil authorities of Ohio and other states.

On the other hand when Mr. Partridge took in hand the labor of dividing the property which had been in this way laid down at his feet by wealthy simpletons, it was his custom to impart to each person his "stewardship" by means of a deed before the civil courts, so that all things might be "made sure according to the laws of the land" (D.&C., 51, 4-6).

It must be apparent therefore that there was never any communism among the Mormons. Every private member had an






[615r]



absolute title in his "stewardship," to manage it according to whatsoever fashion it liked him. He could claim the "stewardship" even in apostasy, but it was expressly stipulated that persons who had once stupidly "consecrated" their property to the Lord could not expect to have it returned in case they quitted the ranks of the faithful, for the very good reason that it had in the meantime been conveyed by a legal title to the poor who would be in the quiet enjoyment and possession of it. No person however, was empowered to disturb a person who had consecrated in obtaining the poor pittance called a "stewardship" which the bishop might have bestowed out of his own estate (D.&C., 51, 5-6).

The notion of equality, not that of community, is the Mormon notion; it was derived apparently by direct descent from the Sandemanian institution of the "Fellowship."

It was evidently designed in the beginning to appoint but one bishop for the entire church, who should be represented at the various stakes of Zion by an officer who was denominated the bishop's agent. Newel Knight had the honor to be the earliest agent of the bishop; he was appointed to have charge of the community in the township of Thompson in May 1831 (D.&C., 51, 8; cf. 54, 2). Mr. Sidney Gilbert was the second person who was preferred to occupy this dignity (D.&C., 53, 4).

The exceptional action of the bishop may further appear if one






[615s]



considers that the important revelation marked Section 41 in the edition of Mr. Orson Pratt, was originally entitled "A Revelation to the Bishop and the Church in Kirtland" (Book of Commandments, Chapter 51, title).

Furthermore he was especially required to be present in all cases where offending members were made subject to discipline (D.&C., 42, 82). Upon him likewise was bestowed the important power of discerning all the gifts that were at any time imparted to the brethren, "lest there shall be any among you professing and yet not be of God" (D.&C., 46, 27). Ezra Booth mentions the fact that Mr. Partridge was duly ordained to perform this service and that he encountered in it a sad trial of his faith (Howe, p. 201).






 



[615t]



Chapter III.
A Rival Revelator.

There was not a word anywhere written in the Book of Mormon to indicate that the grace of inspiration or the work of revelation should be confined to a single person; on the contrary the whole tenor of the teachings there conveyed declared that any body might aspire to the gifts of the spirit who should possess a sufficient amount of faith. The same position as considered to be announced in what Joseph called the "Articles and Covenants of the church of Christ" (D.&C., 20, 11).

Mr. Cowdery, it has been shown, had very naturally taken that view, and in accordance with it he had employed his skill in the character of a revelator at the third conference of the church, which befell at Fayette, New York, on the first of September, 1830. Ezra Booth relates that "Cowdery's desires for this work were so keen and excessive, as, to use his own language, 'it was to me a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could forbear no longer'" (Howe, p. 214).

The fate of Oliver's experiment has already been narrated. To every observer the impudence which Joseph displayed on that occasion must be in the highest degree preposterous. Nothing was more to be expected than a rebellion against his despotic authority. If Cowdery, who had copied the Book of Mormon, was the first to join issue with his chief, Mr. Rigdon






[615u]



who had edited the Book of Mormon and produced the theological system which it conveyed, could not fail to perceive that the claims of Smith were ridiculous. He was bound to join issue with him in one form or another.

The earliest method in which he exhibited his protest was by claiming a sort of partnership interest in all the revelations which the prophet had produced from the beginning up to the month of January 1831. A letter has been preserved which he sent to his people at Kirtland on the 4th of January 1831 in which this claim is expressed as follows:

"I send you this letter by John Whitmer. Receive him, for he is a brother greatly beloved, and an Apostle of this church. With him we send all the revelations which we have received; for the Lord has declared unto us that you pray unto him that Joseph Smith and myself go speedily unto you; but at present it is not expedient for him to send us. He has required us therefore to send our beloved brother John, and with him the revelations which he has given unto us, by which you will see the reason why we cannot come at this time" (Howe, pp. 110-1).
The above claim was not ill founded; Sidney had an actual or constructive interest in the production of most of the performances which Joseph had yet sent forth as divine revelations. Possibly the materials of many of them were suggested and in some cases even the words may have been dictated by him. Certainly he understood himself to have as large a share as the prophet possessed in them.






[615v]



The second form that was chosen by Sidney for the purpose of expressing his dissatisfaction with the enormous arrogance of Mr. Smith is thus described by Ezra Booth:

"A female professing to be a prophetess, made her appearance in Kirtland, and so ingratiated herself into the esteem and favor of some of the elders that they received her as a person commissioned to act a conspicuous part in the Mormonizing world. Rigdon and some others gave her the right hand of fellowship, and literally saluted her with what they called the kiss of charity. But Smith, viewing her as an encroachment upon his sacred premises, declared her an impostor, and she returned to the place from whence she came. Her visit, however, made a deep impression on the minds of many, and the barbed arrow which she left in the heart of some, is not yet eradicated" (Howe, p. 216).
The female in question was an enthusiastic Methodist named Nancy Towle, a disciple of Lorenzo Dow's. A book of reminiscences which she afterwards published gave an amount of attention to this incident. The revelation in which Joseph delivered his attack against the pretensions of this female prophet was delivered only a few days after the promulgation of the "Law" of the theocratic kingdom. It may be of interest to bring it forward in this place as a specimen of his adroitness:

"O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give an ear to the words which I shall speak unto you; for behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and






[615w]



revelations from my hand. And this ye shall know assuredly that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me. But verily, verily, I say unto you that none else shall be appointed unto this gift, except it be through him; for if it be taken from him, he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead. And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations and commandments; and this I give into you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. For verily I say unto you that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained, as I have told you before, to teach these revelations which you have received and shall receive, through him whom I have appointed" (D.&C., 43, 1-7).
To all intents and purposes the present was a conflict with Sidney Rigdon, as the one that had been waged at Fayette, New York, was directed against Oliver Cowdery. If Sidney had been bold enough to join issue in his own person instead of hiding behind the female in question, the struggle might have been much more lively. As it was Joseph carried off the victory almost without an exertion. The suggestion, contained in the closing sentence that the woman who claimed to be a prophet had not been ordained, would have been of itself sufficient to overthrow her pretensions before all thorough paced members of the Mormon community.

In the encounter with Oliver he had felt himself under the necessity of making a concession to the effect that it was lawful for that gentleman to obtain commandments from the Lord by word of







[615x]



mouth, but that it should not be permitted him to write them down (D.&C., 28, 4-5). He does not appear to have regarded Rigdon and his prophetess as being worthy to receive a favor of that kind. In a word Sidney was floored without much apparent trouble. It is possible that if the poor fellow had not already committed himself so far that it was impossible for him to retire with honor, he might at this moment have withdrawn and exposed the plot and scheme in which he had taken such a prominent part. In this way it would have been easy for him to bring Joseph to terms; but this way would have cost him larger sacrifices than he ever felt himself able to submit to.

Having established the point that he alone was appointed of God to receive commandments and revelations, Mr. Smith now proceeded to direct the brethren regarding the manner in which it was appropriate for them to accept and improve his instructions:

"And now behold I give unto you a commandment that when ye are assembled together ye shall note with a pen how to act, and for my church to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given; and thus it shall become a law unto you, being sanctified by that which ye have received, that ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me; that inasmuch as ye do this glory shall be added to the kingdom which ye have received. Inasmuch as ye do it not, it shall be taken even that which ye have received" (Book of Commandments, Chap. XLV, 8-10).
In the above it is also of consequence to observe that since







[615y]



the promulgation of the "Law" on the 9th of February it was considered that the kingdom had been already received.

The entire subject is in conclusion dismissed by a threat that is very amusing at the present distance of time, however serious it might have appeared to the persons who first heard it pronounced:

"Purge ye out the iniquity which is among you, sanctify yourselves before me, and if ye desire the glories of the kingdom appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith jun., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith. And again I say unto you that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide for him food and raiment and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him: and if ye do it not he shall remain unto them that have received him, that I may reserve to myself a pure people before me" (D.&C., 43, 11-14).
The last words of this citation contain an allusion to the faithful in the state of New York. No better benefit could have chanced to the disciples at Kirtland than to have formed a speedy issue by which the prophet might have been sent flying back to the dupes who acknowledged his authority in that quarter of the world.

After the occurrence which has just now been described the limits of Joseph's prerogative came to be well understood and observed; he guarded them with so much diligence that it was rare to find a person with a sufficient amount of temerity to transgress them. Nancy Towle shook off the dust from her feet and was heard of no more at Kirtland.







 



[616]



Chapter IV.
Objections Against the Theocratic "Law."

The "Law" of the Theocracy had hardly fallen from the lips of Joseph before just and weighty objections began to be spoken against it. Already in the state of New York the prophet had permitted the Lord to promise his disciples that they should "be a free people, and should have no other laws but my laws when I come, for I am your Lawgiver, and what can stay my hand" (D.&C., 38, 22). The ideal which he kept in view was to the effect "that the church may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world" (D.&C., 78, 14). In case there was a conflict between the "Law" of the Theocracy and the law of the land, he declared, "and now verily I say unto you concerning the laws of the land, it is my will that my people should observe to do all things whatsoever I command them" (D.&C., 98, 4).

Beyond any question here was provided and prepared an "irrepressible conflict"; it has occasioned much sorrow in the past time, and unless wiser counsels should prevail in the future it promises to produce calamities that shall be still more numerous and severe. Time and again Joseph was calm enough to perceive this case of contradictory opposition, but he was unwilling to propose anything that would relieve it. During his residence in Ohio, it had never been in his power to procure the complete observance of the "Law" of the Theocracy, but






[617]



he designed to introduce a new epoch when he settled in Missouri. There it was announced to the faithful: "verily I say unto you, my law shall be kept on this land" (D.&C., 58, 19). It was apparent however, that unless that statement was in some sort modified the more fanatical Mormons were likely to precipitate an issue which might result in a catastrophe. It was therefore added:

"Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land: wherefore be subject to the powers that be, until He reigns whose right it is to reign, and subdues all enemies under his feet. Behold the laws which ye have received from my hand are the laws of the church and in this light shall ye hold them forth" (D.&C., 58, 21-23).
If it had been in his reach to keep to such doctrine as is inculcated in the above passage it would have been well for his own peace and for the peace of his community. But the Theocracy constantly and with increasing impatience demanded to override every barrier, and it would give no respect to the civil power. Where it chanced to be suitable to his fancy to violate a given law of the land, Joseph always found a ready excuse for his conduct in the suggestion that this particular law was not constitutional (D.&C., 98, 5-7). No law was constitutional which the Theocracy conceived to be inconvenient to their arrogance.

It has been signified that the "Law" of the Theocracy was given at Kirtland on the






[618]



9th day of February 1831. It occasioned a degree of remark, and before the month was out Joseph found it necessary to produce a special revelation for the purpose of replying to objections that had been laid against it. The original text of this separate revelation is contained in the Book of Commandments, Chap. XLVII. A confused and unfaithful copy of it may be read in the Doctrine and Covenants, 42, 74 to 93. It amounted to a corruption of the sources of history to print it as was the case in at least one notation in immediate connection with Section 42. Mr. Orson Pratt deserves commendation for the fact that he has advised the reader of the actual condition of affairs by means of a footnote, which informs him that "verses 74 to 93 inclusive, were given some days after the first 73 verses."

In the present connection the original text will be followed, as it is laid down in the Book of Commandments Chapter XLVII.

The first point that Joseph took in hand was the objection that related to capital punishment for the crime of murder. The "Law" had maintained "thou shalt not kill; but he that killeth shall die" (D.&C., 42, 19), and the inquiry was entirely in order whether the life of the criminal should be surrendered on a special theocratic gallows at Kirtland. It is interesting to observe that in this issue Mr. Smith distinctly backs down and yields the precedence to the Commonwealth of Ohio. His retreat is accomplished in the following terms:






[619]



"Every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church; and it shall come to pass that if any persons among you shall kill they shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land; for remember that he hath no forgiveness; and it shall be proven according to the laws of the land" (B. of Com., Chap. XLVII, 1-4). More is a clean breast, and a gratifying concession to what the prophet must have regarded as the more or less contemptible Commonwealth of Ohio.

The original "Law" proposed to treat such infractions of the marriage relation as come under the name of adultery as church offences, with which the commonwealth of Ohio should have no concern, the offender being merely cast out of the church (D.&C., 42, 24-26). With reference to the inquiry whether he intended to infringe upon the prerogative of the civil state in this quarter likewise Joseph was disposed to abstain from committing himself. He directed that the church should lift up their hands against persons who offend in this wise, "that they may be dealt with according to the law" (B. of Com., Chap. XLVII, 7); but he is at pains to conceal whether it is the civil or the theocratic law to which allusion was made. In later additions he specified that the law suggested in this case was not the law of the state but "the law of God" (D.&C., 42, 81).

The next objection that was raised against Joseph's theocratic "Law" alluded to the circumstance that it






[620]



demanded that such crimes as stealing and lying should be dealt with exclusively by the Theocracy to the prejudice of the civil state (D.&C., 42, 20-1). In his reply to that objection he likewise backs down from his former position and consents that "if a man rob, he shall be delivered up unto the law" (B. of Com., XLVII, 9). That no misunderstanding might be encouraged with reference to the particular law that was had in view in the above, it was prescribed in subsequent editions that "if a man or woman shall rob, he or she shall be delivered up unto the law of the land" (D & C, 42, 84). Besides robbing and stealing and lying, all other offences were particularly reserved for correction by the law of God (D.&C., 42, 87).

The method in which discipline was to be administered by the "church of Christ" was the same as had been appointed in the Book of Mormon. It is described as follows:

"And if any man or woman shall commit adultery, he or she shall be tried before two elders of the church, and every word shall be established against him or her by two witnesses of the church, and not of the enemy; and if there are more than two witnesses it is better. But he or she shall be condemned by the mouth of two witnesses, and the elders shall lay the case before the church, and the church shall lift up their hands against him or her" (D.&C., 42, 80-1). It has already been shown that this scheme of administering discipline was the same as is enjoined by Mr. Campbell in his volume entitled






[621]



"The Christian System," p. 88. There is reason to conclude that this peculiarity also was borrowed by the Mormons from the Disciples.









 



[622]



Chapter V.
The Theocratic City.

Sidney's clumsy literalistic notion regarding the "gathering" of Israel belongs to the fundamental elements composing the Book of Mormon. Already from the beginning the mind of Joseph and of his associates had become saturated with that conviction. The name of the city where the "gathering" should be enacted was freely declared; it was called the "New Jerusalem" (3 Nephi, 20, 22; 21, 23-4). This name was bestowed not because "the city" should be builded in the heavens but for the reason that it should be established in America. Ancient Jerusalem had been founded ages ago in Palestine; the city that was situated on this continent should be called the "New Jerusalem" for purposes of distinction, in order that it might not be confounded with the city of David (Ether, 13, 3-12).

The Book of Doctrine and Covenants supplies proof that the above were among the dear and familiar ideals of the early Mormons. On the first of September 1830, after Mr. Smith had imparted to Cowdery a commission enjoining him to go and preach to the Lamanites, he added,

"And now behold I say unto you that it is not revealed and no man knoweth where the city shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter (D.&C., 28, 9).
It is evident that curiosity was awake in every quarter where the most casual allusion to "the city" chanced to be given. For the purpose of






[623]



allaying the pangs of curiosity Mr. Cowdery was informed: "Behold I say unto you that the city shall be on the borders of the Lamanites" (D.&C., 28, 9).

There was sound reason for this choice; the Book of Mormon was intended first of all for the behoof of "the remnant of the House of Israel," who were hidden away in the depths of American forests. It was fitting that it should be of convenient access to the Indians before all other people.

Whenever in the earlier sections of the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, any name is given to "the city," Joseph invariably calls it by the title that he had learned from the Book of Mormon. Reference to the following passages will show that it was regularly denominated the "New Jerusalem" (D.&C., 42, 9. 35. 62. 67; 45, 66).

The name was suddenly changed from the "New Jerusalem" to "Zion" in D.&C., 45, 67; there is only a single instance after that passage where the prophet returns, apparently by mistake, to the title of "New Jerusalem" (D.&C., 84, 2. 4). The place is henceforth regularly spoken of as "the city of Zion," the land adjacent to it, embracing to appearance the whole state of Missouri, was designated as "the land of Zion."

The explanation of this sudden change in respect to nomenclature may be perceived in the seventh Chapter of Joseph's inspired translation of the Book of Genesis. It was there given out that after the Lord had prepared






[624]



his Holy City, which was the above named "New Jerusalem," the city of Enoch, which went by the name of Zion, should descend from heaven and meet them there and the place should henceforth be called no more "New Jerusalem," but Zion (Genesis 7, 70-72). By means of a somewhat violent prolepsis, Mr. Smith persuaded himself that this process had been accomplished as early as the 7th of March 1831, and, therefore, he lost no time in making the change (D.&C., 45, 67).

Sidney did not in the least relish the situation of the "New Jerusalem," or Zion, on the borders of the Lamanites. That point was too far removed from the haunts of his kith and kin; the enterprise of founding a home among the savages would cost a larger share of labor and privation than suited the cut of his fancy. Accordingly the first time an opportunity was presented, he made an effort to interpret Joseph's prophecy concerning the "borders of the Lamanites" to his own advantage. In the famous letter that was sent to Kirtland from New York on the 4th of January 1831, he declared:

"The Lord has made known unto us, some of his great things which he has laid up for them that love him, among which the fact (a glory of wonders it is) that you are living on the land of promise, and that there is the place of gathering, and from that place to the Pacific Ocean, God has dedicated to himself, not only in time, but through eternity, and he has given it to us and our children, not only while time lasts, but we shall have it again in eternity, as you





[625]



will see by one of the commandments, received day before yesterday (Cf. D.&C., 38, 18-20). Therefore, be it known unto you, brethren, that you are dwelling on your eternal inheritance; for which, cease not to give ceaseless glory, praise and thanksgiving to the God of Heaven" (Howe, p. 111).
By the above it appears that Sidney understood the prediction concerning the city that should be founded on the borders of the Lamanites to refer to Kirtland in Ohio. That was to be the place of "gathering"; the Lord would dispose the course of affairs in such a fashion that the whole territory lying between Kirtland and the Pacific Ocean should be occupied by the Indians both for time and for eternity.

Joseph was not averse to this interpretation, but it was clear to his mind that the Theocracy could not approximately fix its seat and centre in a district that was subject to the paramount authority of the state of Ohio. If it were permitted him to get possession of all the civil offices in the county of Geauga, and to have entire control of its affairs he would be delighted still to inhabit the place. Perhaps the elections for county officers were then drawing nigh; possibly the scheme in hand related simply to the conversion to Mormon faith of all the citizens of Geauga county. Whatever may be the real state of particulars in that connection the elders who had been sent abroad on the 9th of February to preach the "ancient gospel" (D.&C., 42, 8-9) were speedily summoned to return and to employ






[626]



their energies in the vicinity of Kirtland with a view to the ultimate subjugation of Geauga county. Following is the revelation which was provided to endorse this new scheme:

"Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants [Joseph and Sidney], it is expedient in me that the elders of my church should be called together, from the east and from the west, and from the north and from the south, by letter or some other way. And it shall come to pass that inasmuch as they are faithful, and exercise faith in me, I will pour out my spirit upon them in the day that they assemble themselves together. And it shall come to pass that they shall go forth into the regions round about, and preach repentance unto the people; and many shall be converted, insomuch that ye shall obtain power to organize yourselves according to the laws of man; that your enemies shall not have power over you, that you may be preserved in all things; that you may be enabled to keep my laws, that every bond may be broken wherewith the enemy seeketh to destroy my people. Behold I say unto you that ye must visit the poor and the needy and administer to their relief, that they may be kept until all things may be done according to my law which ye have received" (D.&C., Section 44).
The above project, by which Kirtland should become the centre of theocratic government, was not in any sense successful. It is believed to have been defeated by the agency of Mr. Parley P. Pratt, one of






[627]



the four missionaries who had been sent to the west to convert the Lamanites. Having gone as far as Independence in Missouri, Mr. Pratt returned to Kirtland in the spring of 1831 to report their progress and prospects (Howe, p. 126). He is suspected to have arrived about the first of March; his mouth was filled with the glories of the western country. If Joseph had heard in good time the accounts he brought it is likely that he would have abstained from publishing the revelation that has just now been cited in full.

The elders who had been called together "by letter or some other way" were assembled in the fourth Conference of the "church of Christ" on the 7th of March 1831, by which time the sentiment of the prophet had veered round to be entirely in favor of Missouri as the place where the "New Jerusalem" should be established (D.&C., 45, 65-67).

From that day forward the air was filled with the preparations for removal; it was soon authoritatively given out that "the city" should be builded in that portion of the world (D.&C., Section 48, 4-6). The hopes which Sidney had formed in favor of Kirtland were entirely destroyed. He was compelled to yield, but he was not compelled to avoid grumbling. When he went up with Joseph to Independence in the month of July 1831, with a view to laying the foundation of "the city," he was bold enough to suggest after getting sight of the country that "Joseph's vision was a bad thing" (Howe, p. 177).






[628]



But that was not the end of the trouble that was experienced on this account. In a revelation that was delivered in Missouri, Joseph said,

"I give unto my servant, Sidney Rigdon, a commandment that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God as it shall be made known by the Spirit unto him; and an epistle and subscription to be presented unto all the churches to obtain monies to be put into the hands of the bishop to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God, of himself or the agent, as seemeth him good, or as he shall direct" (D.&C., 58, 50-2).
It went very hard with Sidney to quit the pleasant joys of Kirtland; he had no stomach for the task which Joseph had here imposed upon him. He fulfilled it so ill that the prophet would not accept the work, and in August 1831 got a threatening revelation that was couched in the following terms:

"And now behold, verily I say unto you, I the Lord am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon: he exalted himself in his heart, and received not counsel but grieved the Spirit; therefore his writing is not acceptable unto the Lord, and he shall make another, and if the Lord receive it not, behold he standeth no longer in the office which I have appointed him" (D.&C., 63, 55-56).
While preparations were being made to enter upon the anticipated journey to Missouri in the summer of 1831, it was considered advisable to get the dissatisfied Mr. Rigdon out of the way, by confiding






[629]



a somewhat important missionary labor to his zeal and industry. Early in the action a disreputable old Shaker by the name of Copley of Mayfield Ohio, had attached himself to the cause of the prophet, and it was anticipated that it might be possible to reach and capture the entire community of Shakers by the agency of this person. Accordingly a revelation was obtained by which Sidney Rigdon, Parley P. Pratt, who was newly arrived from Independence, Missouri, and Leman Copley should go on a mission to the Shaker community in the month of March 1831 (D.&C., Section 49). Nothing of consequence was ever accomplished by this mission, but it served the excellent purpose of keeping Rigdon at a distance from Kirtland at a time it might have been in his power to lay unpleasant obstacles in the way of the enterprise to establish the "New Jerusalem" on the borders of the Lamanites.

When the business was fully ripe, a Special Conference was called at Kirtland in the first days of June 1831, where the last preparations were made to go up and fix the location of the much longed for city (D.&C., Section 52).







 



[630]



Chapter VI.
In Perils From Enthusiasm.

A sufficient description has been given elsewhere of the excitement and excesses that accompanied the visit of Cowdery and his association at Kirtland in the month of November 1830. There was no abatement of these evils after the departure of the missionaries; on the contrary they continued and increased throughout the winter. The appearance of Joseph towards the closing days of January 1831, it must be conceded was an event little calculated to allay the overstrained emotions of his followers. There was a hurly-burly that seemed to have no end in sight.

Almost every person of the slightest consequence in spiritual affairs was favored with one or more of the numerous spiritual gifts that were abroad. The gift of tongues was especially popular, and likewise that of the interpretation of tongues. There were visions of the Lord and commissions to enter upon the calling of proclaiming the gospel were gotten directly from heaven upon sheets of parchment that were handed down for the purpose of conveying them (Howe, pp. 105-6). It was nothing uncommon for the faithful to receive the ministration of angels or to claim the guidance of direct divine inspiration. The peril of these proceedings to the pretensions of Joseph must be apparent; if they went forward at the existing rate of speed it would not be long before all the Lord's people would be prophets. But he claimed the exclusive right






[631]



to prophetic functions and distinction, it was always one of the leading concerns of his existence to prevent any of his followers from invading his prerogative at that point. If he expected to retain his authority it behooved him to act speedily, and to reduce the existing disorder before the time should arrive when it would reach a grade where it might pass beyond any dower of his to control it. As a born leader of men Joseph came forward in good season to lay his hand to this enterprise. On the 8th of March, which was the second day of the Fourth Conference, after he had been hardly six weeks established in Kirtland he presented a revelation bearing upon this topic (D.&C., Sect. 46).

This revelation is worthy of attentive study; it is believed the reader will be impressed by a certain degree of likeness between it and the paper by Alexander Campbell on "Spiritual Gifts," which occupies the third place in his "Essays on the Work of the Holy Spirit in the Salvation of Men" (Christian Baptist, pp. 95-7). Possibly Mr. Rigdon had that performance before his eyes when he was giving aid to Joseph in the labor of concocting the document that is here under examination.

In his revelation of the 8th of March, Joseph was not yet prepared to assume the position that the "spiritual gifts" in which the faithful so much rejoiced and for which they valued themselves so highly, were nothing other than the works of Satan. On the contrary he exhorted his supporters that they should covet earnestly the best gifts, but always with the right kind of motives (D.&C.)






[632]



Joseph was not prepared as early as the 8th of March to affirm that the "Gifts" in which the brethren so much rejoiced and for which they valued themselves so highly were nothing better than deceptions of Satan: that would have been a too painful position. Nevertheless he is bold enough to suggest that it was possible for those who went farthest in these matters to be "Seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men": and alas to add the caution: "wherefore beware lest ye be deceived."

This was half way gound, indeed, but it was as far as he then dared or cared to go. Even these words must have produced a disagreeable effect upon the excited community. He believed that a hint would be sufficient to arrest the disorders which he dreaded far more than he deplored. After enumerating all the gifts of the spirit of which he could think (D.&C., 46, 10-26), he further provided that these should be placed under a certain sort of control, which it was hoped would prevent the excesses that prevailed. This control was entrusted to the hands of the Bishop and other leading members of the "church of Christ" as follows:

"And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church, and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts, lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God. And it shall come to pass that he that asketh in spirit shall






[633]



receive in spirit; that unto some it may be given to have all these gifts, that there may be a head, in order that every member may be profited thereby" (D.&C., 46, 27-29).

But Mr. Smith did not properly estimate the extent of his authority in this connection; a single word was not sufficient to accomplish the business that he had in view. The evil that he dreaded remained without abatement. The unhappy result may have been in some sort due to the misfortune that befell him in the case of Bishop Partridge. This person was duly ordained according to the direction cited above to the important function of discerning the spirits. In the character of Bishop, he was ex officio chairman of the Board that had been created to execute that labor. The members of this Board would very naturally inquire of the prophet, that he should give them a criterion by means of which they might infallibly discern between good and evil spirits. In order to gratify their wish Joseph issued instructions that should be applied in the case of persons who should claim that they had been favored with the ministration of angels. These should be required to describe the personal appearance of the angel who had showed himself, and by means of that merely outward token they were to decide whether it was a good or a bad angel (Howe, p. 201).

The best by means of an outward token appears to have been something like the following, namely: an angel of the Lord might be known by the circumstance






[634]



that he bore the appearance of "a tall, slim, well built, handsome man, with a bright pillar upon his head." The devil on the other hand was declared to wear a black pillar upon his head (Howe, p. 187; cf. D.&C., Section 129).

No sooner had he been informed of this merely outward process of deciding between good and evil spirits, than Bishop Partridge was at a loss to perceive what advantage might lie in his ordination to the function of discerning spirits; any person was equal to that labor who could tell the difference between a white and a black column. The impropriety of this proceeding was so apparent to his mind that Ezra Booth declares "it shook his faith" (Howe, p. 201).

But it was indispensable that the excesses at Kirtland should be checked; no one could predict how soon the authority of the prophet would be openly disregarded on every side, if the Lord's people continued to be prophets without exception. By consequence, Joseph decided as speedily as his occasions would permit to take the task once more in hand. It was now considered of good uses to proceed in a more thorough method than had been adopted in the former case. Joseph therefore, sent to New York for his father and his brother Hyrum to come and assist in the campaign that was before him; they arrived about the first of April 1831 (Joseph Smith, pp. 185-6). Having received this important reinforcement it was resolved to work by the plan that had already been pursued with success in the state of New York.






[635]



It had been a happy circumstance for Joseph that in the month of April 1330 when Newel Knight was seized with an attack of chorea like that which prevailed to such a large extent in Kentucky and other portions of the country during the early years of the present century, he had accepted the view that his friend was seized of an evil spirit, and so proceeded to cast out the devil from Newel, a process which was given out to be the first miracle enacted within the limits of the "church of Christ." Experience has shown that this was one of the surest ways to abate the evils that accompanied what was then a very common physical malady. When similar manifestations appeared in his congregation, and the people were by them thrown into a state of disorder, the Rev. Garner McConnico of Williamson county in Tennessee reduced the strange affection by solemnly commanding all unclean spirits to depart from the place. In Kentucky Dr. Blythe, a distinguished minister of the Presbyterian church, also found it possible by a somewhat similar process to abate the excitement that displayed itself among his auditors (Davidson's History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky, p. 177). If an unfriendly aspect was exhibited these abuses were prone to take their departure. Joseph in his pictorial style of address spoke of this unfriendly aspect as the process of casting out devils, just as the parishioners of Mr. McConnico had done a number of years before.

Cases of chorea were numerous and natural in the fanatical enthusiasm that prevailed at Kirtland during the spring of 1831, and Mr. Smith set himself to abate it as best he could by denouncing the whole proceeding






[636]



as nothing better than a demoniacal possession. It must be conceded that this was radical and rough treatment, but rough and radical measures were the only ones that would meet the requirements of the case. The situation was urgent. Lucy Smith supplies the following account of the method in which her son went about this disagreeable work:

Shortly after Joseph arrived, he called the church together in order to show them the difference between the spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. He said if a man arose in meeting to speak, and was seized with a kind of paroxysm that drew his face and limbs in a violent and unnatural manner, which made him appear to be in pain; and if he gave utterance to strange sounds, which were incomprehensible to his audience, they might rely upon it that he had the spirit of the devil. But on the contrary, when a man speaks by the spirit of God, he speaks from the abundance of his heart-his mind is filled with intelligence, and even should he be excited, it does not cause him to do anything ridiculous or unseemly. He then called upon one of the brethren to speak, who arose and made the attempt, but was immediately seized with a kind of spasm, which drew his face arms and fingers in a most astonishing manner.

Hyrum, by Joseph's request laid his hands on the man, whereupon he sunk back in a state of complete exhaustion. Joseph then called upon another man to speak, who stood leaning in an open window. This man also attempted to speak but was thrown forward into







[637]



the house prostrate, unable to utter a syllable. He was administered to, and the same effects followed as in the first instance. These together with a few other examples of the same kind convinced the brethren of the mistake under which they had been laboring; and they all rejoiced in the goodness of God, in once more condescending to lead the children of men by revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost (Lucy Smith, pp. 181-2).
But it was required to be definitely understood that "revelation and the gift of the Holy Ghost" were bestowed exclusively through the agency of Joseph Smith, Jr. The policy now distinctly adopted was in the highest degree arbitrary and tyrannical, every manifestation which hitherto had been considered in the light of an operation of the spirit of God, was henceforth declared to be nothing better than a machination of Satan. The entire business of inspiration, revelation, and all the other endowments of the Holy Ghost were reserved to become the special privilege of Joseph. It would have been difficult to perceive a more lame and impotent conclusion anywhere in the world. Here was the end of the gift of tongues and of many other marvels; here was likewise the source of a world of discontent. But it must be conceded that it would have been impossible for Mr. Smith to have retained his position and authority if it had been left to each private member to hear and at his own moving to declare with authority the word and the will of the Lord.






[638]



After the month of April 1831 had been employed with the aid of his brother Hyrum to try the spirits and reduce them to order, the prophet at last considered it would be safe and convenient during the early portion of May 1831 to come forward with a new revelation for the permanent regulation of the various gifts of the Spirit (D.&C., Sect. 50). This document is skilfully adapted to the purpose in hand, and if there were space at hand it is of sufficient importance to justify a paraphrase which should explain its various provisions and allusions. It served an excellent end by convincing the rank and file that the spirits in which they had previously exulted were false spirits, and that Satan was at work wherever the gift of tongues appeared. It was not until the advent of Brigham Young that Joseph felt constrained to yield this last point and to set all tongues loose again. By that time however, his authority was so well confirmed that this concession occasioned him no serious embarrassment. The gift of inspiration and revelation, however, were never afterwards considered in the light of common property.







 



[638a]



Chapter VII.
Exodus of the Saints From New York State.

The intimate connection that existed between the East and the West from the earliest moment of Mormon enterprise has been already insisted upon. Joseph was impatient to go West long before he enjoyed that privilege; nothing but the accident of Sidney's cowardice prevented him from showing himself in Ohio as early as the month of August 1830 (D.&C., 26, 1; Scraps of Biography, p. 83). Now that it had become possible for Sidney to show himself openly in New York the time that had been so long desired was felt to be at hand. Joseph himself went forward in the month of January 1831; but before he started, it was his care earnest study to stir up in the minds of his people to follow after him as soon as the weather should favor their journey. In the month of December 1830 he obtained a revelation at Canandaigua, New York, in which the Lord was represented to affirm: "a commandment I give unto the church, that it is expedient in me that they should assemble together at the Ohio, against the time that my servant Oliver Cowdery shall return unto them" (D.&C., 37, 3).

At the third Conference of the church, which convened on the 2d of January 1831 he delivered a lengthy revelation of which the chief burden was that every man should go to with his might to prepare for the expected removal (D.&C., 38, 40). A degree of unwillingness was displayed, perhaps, on the part of those who were






[638b]



in somewhat comfortable pecuniary circumstances to make a change of so much importance, and the prophet employed his ingenuity with no mean effect to persuade them to action. In this undertaking he endeavors to excite their minds by obscure and perhaps unworthy allusions to the perils of their present situation. They were assured that "the enemy was combined...to bring to pass their destruction in process of time and they knew it not" (D.&C., 38, 12-3). Joseph had much satisfaction throughout his career in exciting the people to groundless fears; there was no disturbance of any sort to be apprehended on this occasion; but he declared: "I say unto you that the enemy in the secret chambers seeketh your lives. Ye hear of wars in far countries, and ye say that there will soon be great wars in far countries, but ye know not the hearts of men in your own land" (D.&C., 38, 28-29).

At that period he was a raving subject of the Anti-Mason rabies, and would naturally employ the bugbear of "secret combinations" to alarm the minds of his friends in New York; it was even affirmed, apparently upon the authority of Mormon leaders, that the state of New York would probably be sunk (Howe, p. 110). Reference was often made to this catastrophe for the purpose of inducing the brethren there to rescue themselves from a situation that was sure to prove disastrous before many months were ended.

Prospects of [pelf] were likewise held up before their eyes;






[638c]



in the circumstance that an eternal inheritance in certain excellent tracts of real estate was promised in the state of Ohio (D.&C., 38, 17-20); the prize of freedom from every law but the law of the theocracy was likewise displayed (D.&C., 38, 22). They were further incited with the hope of an incomparable spiritual advantage which was called by the name of an "endowment with power from on high" (D.&C., 38, 32), and finally were charged to escape the pollution of the wicked men who surrounded them (D.&C., 38, 42).

These considerations when they had all been duly laid together and enforced by the eloquence of the youthful prophet had the effect which he desired. In all parts of the country where his followers resided, preparations were in progress for their removal, when the spring of the year should be sufficiently advanced to favor travel. Those which took place at Colesville in Broome county, have been described by Newel Knight, who says:

"As might be expected, we were obliged to make great sacrifices of our property. The most of my time was occupied in visiting the brethren, and helping to arrange their affairs, so that we might travel together in one company. Having made the best arrangements we could, we bade adieu to all we held dear on this earth, and in the early part of April started for our destination" (Scraps of Biography, pp. 68-9).
The Colesville company appear to have traveled on foot, or by the aid of wheeled conveyances as far as Buffalo, where they






[638d]



should embark for Fairport, which was the most convenient harbor for persons who desired to reach Kirtland. Though they were unhappily delayed in their journey, by the circumstance that Mr. Knight was summoned to testify in court, before he should take final leave of the country, they were enabled to reach Buffalo in advance of any other colony of their brethren. There they were compelled to remain nearly two weeks because the wind blew from the lake and filled the harbor with ice (Scraps, p. 69). After they had waited one week they were joined by the company from Fayette, who had traveled by the canal and completed the journey in five days (Joseph Smith, p. 185). This party numbered eighty strong (Joseph Smith, p. 182). Lucy Smith was the captain of it, but she had able lieutenants in the person of Solomon Humphrey and Dr. Hiram Page (Joseph Smith, pp. 182-5). Mr. Humphrey, a venerable and every way worthy man, was a half brother of President Heman Humphrey of Amherst College, who had come from his home at Potsdam in St. Lawrence county just in time to join in the expedition.

As reported above there were eighty persons under the charge of Lucy Smith. Thomas E. Marsh reached Buffalo a few moments after her arrival with a company that numbered thirty more (Joseph Smith, p. 186), and it is possible that there were as many as thirty in the Colesville community. By this calculation it will appear that the New York contingent could not have contained much more than 140 souls, a small reckoning in comparison with the hundreds who flocked to






[638e]



the new standard from the ranks of Sidney's followers in the west.

Lucy Smith and the females of her company after landing at Fairport were hospitably entertained at Painesville under the roof of Edward Partridge, the first Bishop of the church (Joseph Smith, p. 193-4), after which she was carried by a certain Brother Kingsbury, whose name does not elsewhere occur in the literature of Mormonism, to the house of Isaac Morley, where her husband was established in quarters that must have appeared more comfortable than the accomodations than had recently been assigned to him in the debtor's department of the jail at Canandaigua.

The prophet was eager to settle the New York brethren in such a fashion that "every church should be organized in as close bodies as they could be; and this for a wise purpose" (Book of Commandments Chapter XLIV, 57). It was possible for him to execute this scheme in the case of the Colesville company. In the township of Thompson, a few miles to the north east of Kirtland was a wealthy landowner of the name of Copley, who had offered them a considerable body of land upon terms that were considered acceptable (Scraps, p. 69), and these were in the course of the month of May duly settled in that part of the country (D.&C., Sect. 51).

But it was not in his power to arrange such favorable conditions for the other churches. Mr. Howe says:

In consequence of their inability to purchase lands adjoining headquarters, they were





[638f]



scattered about in several townships, much exposed to "wild beasts" and subject to have their faith shaken by the influence of reason. Several renounced it. They were daily running to the prophet with queries and doubts which were constantly arising upon their minds. He generally satisfied them by explaining: nevertheless, they annoyed him much, and the necessity of with-drawing them from the influences which surrounded them became apparent: hence their removal to Missouri, where they could in time purchase all the land which they should need at a low rate and become a "distinct people" (Howe, p. 126).








 



[638g]



Chapter VIII.
Other Items of Interest.

The excitement which Mr. Rigdon had learned to love and to crave was now awarded in full measure. His Disciple brethren in particular crowded about him to obtain an explanation of the courage of conduct which their former valued associate had recently adopted, and at present considered it his highest duty to pursue (Howe, pp. 112-115). Interviews with these would afford entertainment and not seldom advantage; by this means would be laid a foundation for influences that might later result in their perversion to the Mormon faith. In his opening sermon at Kirtland on Sunday the 30th day of January 1831 he was understood to affirm that he was able to supply good and intelligible reasons for the certainty with which he embraced his new creed. This statement was unnecessarily interpreted by the Rev. Thomas Campbell to signify a challenge to hold a public debate (Howe, p. 117); but nothing of the sort was intended, and Sidney very properly laid in the fire the lengthy epistle in which this misconception was presented to his attention (Howe, p. 123).

He had much more important concerns under his hands than to hold a useless dispute; he was reaping the fruit of the labors which he had so long performed in the camp of the Disciples. Different estimates are given of the number of adherents to the new faith on the 6th of June 1831 at which time was held the Special Conference






[638h]



that has become conspicuous by its effects upon the subsequent fortunes of the "church of Christ." One of the more recent official reports declares that there were already as many as two thousand believers (Handbook of Reference, p. 40). It is likely that here is an instance of exaggeration, but whatever might have been the real number, one may safely conclude that as many as two thirds of them owed their conversion more or less directly to the activity and the position of Mr. Rigdon as a prominent leader of the Disciples of Christ.

It will be remembered that for several years he officiated in the character of pastor of the Disciples church in the town of Hiram Ohio. In virtue of that connection he was enabled to acquire a firm hold upon many excellent citizens of that community, and to shake more than one of the chief pillars of the Disciple fraternity. Oliver Snow and his family, who quitted the Disciples church in Hiram, afterwards attained to distinguished influence among the Mormons (Hayden, p. 240). John Johnson, two of whose sons rose to the dignity of the apostleship, was a citizen of Hiram; indeed a somewhat flourishing Mormon conventicle was at one time in operation at Hiram (Hayden, p. 221). When John Johnson and his wife first went to visit the prophet, Ezra Booth, a Methodist minister, who had been for a series of years active on the circuit, went in their company. After witnessing the cure which Joseph undoubtedly






[638i]



performed upon the rheumatic arm of Mrs. Johnson, Booth was so highly impressed that he also went over to the party of the Saints, and was made an Elder during the month of May (Hayden, p. 251). Upon his return to Hiram, he had the fortune to convert Mr. Symonds Ryder, a promising young Elder and a leading ornament of the Disciple church (Hayden, p. 251).

In the month of June William W. Phelps, the broken down printer and politician, who owed his perversion more than anything also to a discourse of ten hours with Mr. Rigdon during the preceding month of December (Howe, p. 274), arrived from Canandaigua, New York (D.&C., Section 55). Sidney Gilbert, the business partner of Newel K. Whitney, was a resident of Kirtland and therefore under the more immediate influence of Rigdon. He was not swift to signify his adhesion, possibly for the reason that he was waiting for an office that should answer to his own conception of his importance. At length when the office of Bishop's agent in Zion was to be supplied his acceptance was timely announced (D.&C., Section 53).

One of the earliest cares of Mr. Smith after landing at Kirtland was to provide himself with a home. He employed the sanctions of divine revelation to support him in that undertaking: "It is meet that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., should have a house built, in which to live and translate" (D.&C., 41, 7). In order to quiet the jealousy of Sidney at the publication of this demand he was also wise enough to provide that






[638j]



"my servant Sidney Rigdon should live as seemeth him good... (D.&C., 41, 8). Hitherto Mr. Rigdon had kept his residence in a comfortable tenement within the limits of Mentor township; in obedience to the above injunction it is believed that he found it convenient to remove from that place to the home that he occupied for several years in Kirtland village.

Joseph was not successful in procuring a house to be erected, as he had suggested; the revelation was fulfilled after a different but perhaps on the whole not less desirable fashion. Philo Dibble very naively supplies the details of the business in the following passage:

"I held myself in readiness to assist the Smith family with my means or my personal services as they might require, for they were financially poor. They were living on a farm owned by F. G. Williams in Kirtland, upon which there was a debt of Four Hundred Dollars due, which had to be paid within a stated time, or the farm would revert to its former owner, Joseph Coe, who was required to raise this amount to save the farm, said that he could not do so, for his wife held the money, and she did not belong to the church. Being present with Joseph when the subject came up, I said to him "I can raise the money": and he replied that if I would I should be blessed. I explained to him how I would raise the money. I owned twelve hundred acres of land lying twenty miles south of Elyria, which was worth





[638k]



three dollars per acre. In order to raise the money then, I should have to sell a portion of it for one dollar and twenty five cents per acre, and I accordingly did so and paid Joseph the four hundred dollars" (Early Scenes in Church History, pp. 78-9).
Joseph remembered this act of kindness and is reported to have repaid it in subsequent years by debauching the wife of Mr. Dibble (Hyde, Mormonism, pp. 84-5). It must have been a sore thing for Sidney to observe how far Joseph was getting the start of him in these rich Ohio pastures.

Having obtained a tract of land, with a house already constructed upon it, Joseph felt that it would be seemly for him speedily to go about the work of "translating," since that was the reason which induced the Lord to issue the revelation by which these benefits were conferred upon him. Himself and Sidney it will be remembered had taken in hand the labor of producing a version of the Old Testament during the visit of the latter to the state of New York. This was done apparently for the purpose of supplying a scriptural foundation for the Swedenborgian tenets which Mr. Rigdon had embraced with a high degree of enthusiasm. That end having been comfortably accomplished there was no further reason why they should make haste with the translation of the Old Testament. Accordingly it was laid aside for an indefinite period, and the New Testament was now made the object of their inspired researches. A command to that effect was bestowed on the 8th of March






[638l]



during the session of the Fourth Conference:

And now behold I say unto you, it shall not be given unto you to know any further concerning this chapter until the New Testament be translated, and in it all these things shall be made known. Wherefore I give unto you that ye may now translate it, that ye may be prepared for the things to come (D.&C., 45, 60-1).
Sidney was understood to act in the role of scribe to the prophet in the labor of translating, but in point of fact he was himself the chief theological adviser and interpreter. The pair set their hands to the work of producing a version of the New Testament as speedily as might be convenient after the date mentioned above; before they quitted Kirtland to make their journey to Missouri they had already completed the Gospel according to Matthew (Howe, p. 182).

The fact has already been recorded that Martin Harris was the first scribe of the prophet; he was followed by Mr. Oliver Cowdery, and when the exigencies of the church required that the latter should be sent about for the purpose of proclaiming the new evangel, Mrs. Emma Smith was chosen to occupy his place (D.&C., 25, 6). It is suspected that Mrs. Smith, notwithstanding the circumstance that ordaining hands were laid upon her (D.&C., 25, 7, 8) was incompetent or otherwise inefficient in her new station. By consequence when Sidney






[638m]



went to visit his chief in New York, he easily fell into the custom of writing down the revelations which chanced to be conferred upon him (Howe, p. 181). Here it was natural for Sidney as the real father of the Mormon movement to offer suggestions and even to dictate to the prophet. So much of the work was performed by Sidney that he did not consider it amiss to claim the revelations as the common property of Joseph and himself. (Howe, p. 111). It is clear that all of this would be disagreeable to Joseph; accordingly at the meeting of the Fourth Conference he obtained a revelation dated on the 8th of March 1831, by means of which Mr. John Whitmer was preferred to the dignity of official scribe of the church (D.&C., Section 47). To complete the narrative it may be added that Whitmer was sent away to Missouri in the month of November 1831, and his place was not officially supplied till the year 1833, when Mr. Warren F. Parrish was called to act in the capacity of scribe to the prophet (Bennett, Mormonism Exposed, p. 47).

It was not long after Joseph became established on the farm which had been secured to his uses by the sacrifices of his brethren, until Mrs. Emma Smith was brought to bed with a pair of twins (Tullidge, p. 791). This circumstance is brought forward for the reason that when her life was despaired of, Joseph did not stop to confer with flesh and blood, but sent post haste to fetch an eminent practitioner from the ranks of the Gentile World (Howe, p. 124). Much






[638n]



discontent was excited by this procedure. Possibly the Thompsonian physicians Page and Williams, to say nothing of Thomas B. Marsh, may have felt that they had been provided with a grievance, the believers in general could not forget how recently the "Law" of the theocracy had been proclaimed in which it was enjoined that the sick should be healed by faith and by the laying on of hands (D.&C., 42, 43-51).

The importance of sending forth preachers by two and two, was first definitely announced in the early period at Kirtland (D.&C., 42, 6; 52, 10), but the principle had been recognized and acted upon in dispatching the earliest band of four missionaries to the Lamanites. It may be worthy of observation that this entire arrangement was subsequently rescinded by Joseph on the 30th of March 1836, three days after the faithful had been endowed with power from on high at the dedication of the House of the Lord in Kirtland (Compendium of Doctrines, p. 268).

Notwithstanding the heavy labors and distracting cares that weighed upon him the young prophet found time to take lessons in the terms of Disciple orthodoxy. Hitherto he had never been quite sure of his footing in dealing with the various terms of the "ancient gospel," but he now learned the "Five Points of Campbellism" as thoroughly as the foremost proclaimers in that communion, and was never afterwards at a loss concerning any of them (D.&C., 49, 12-14; 55, 1).






[638o]



The die having been cast in favor of Missouri at the Fourth Conference on the 8th of March 1831, every sort of preparation was made for a speedy expedition to that country. Three months afterwards, on the 6th of June, was convened what is haps denominated the Special Conference for the reason that it stands forth with particular prominence above the others. Its coming was expected with an unwonted degree of interest. On Sunday the 5th of June, possibly during the course of a harangue that he made in the church, Mr. Smith fell upon his weakness regarding the necessity of seeing the Lord face to face, and declared that "not three days should pass away, before some should see their Savior face to face" (Howe, p. 188). The next day in full Conference Elder Lyman Wight verified the prophecy of his chief; he stepped upon a bench and declared with a loud voice that he saw the Savior (Howe, p. 189).

This circumstance procured for Elder Wight distinguished marks of the prophet's favor; he was granted on the spot the requisite authority to ordain to the Melchisedek Priesthood a number of persons who had been designated by Joseph for that honor. It likewise filled Wight with such an amount of conceit that in the revelation which he bestowed the next morning Joseph was under the necessity of administering to him a somewhat serious castigation (D.&C., 52, 12-21). The malady of chorea, which during the month of May had been denounced as the work of the devil was again exhibited at the Special Conference. Lyman Wight had it, and likewise Harvey Whitlock in a severer form (Howe, pp. 188-9).






[638p]



In the case of the latter it was pronounced to be a manifestation of Satan, and was thereby easily brought under control.

Here is the first instance on record where the Melchisedek Priesthood is mentioned; it did not appear in the prophet's revelations until some time later; it was a confusion of memory which led him to declare in his Autobiography that allusion had been made to it as early as the 15th of May 1829 (Pearl of Great Price, pp. 71-2).

The tongues which had been denounced during the month of May, were partially set loose again on the 6th of June by means of an act of ordination; it was considered important that persons who were on the point of going forth in the character of missionaries to the Indians, should be put in possession of the Indian vernacular by that summary process. Apparently there was not so much harm in the gift of tongues, provided the subject had first obtained a right ordination to employ it. The blessing proved to be nothing better than a barren ideality when the parties who had been ordained actually came to the task of testing their gibberish among the Indians (Howe, p. 194).

Having succeeded admirably in the enterprise of casting out the devil from Harvey Whitlock, Joseph undertook to work another miracle by straightening the deformed hand of John Murdock; but though he did his best in stentorian tones it was a deplorable failure. No better success was enjoyed in the case of an elder who was afflicted with a crooked leg (Howe, pp. 189-90).






[639]



It was apparently at this Conference that a determined effort was made to raise the dead, a process by which the cause was covered with reproach, and the faith of members was temporarily shaken (Howe, pp. 190-1).

Two weeks after the conference Mr. Smith who had felt no scruples to commission his brethren forth on foot, chose the most sumptuous and comfortable means of conveyance for himself and party. The latter consisted of Sidney Rigdon, Martin Harris, Edward Partridge, W. W. Phelps, Joseph Coe and Mr. & Mrs. A. Z. Gilbert. They left Kirtland on the 19th of June (Tullidge, p. 116), traveling by means of wagons and the canal to Cincinnati. There they took a steamer for Louisville and St. Louis (Mackay, p. 64).




 



[640]



Chapter IX.
Marching Zionward.

A promise that men should be appointed to search after the site of "the city," had been given as early as the month of March (D.&C., 48, 5). It had been much reinforced by suitable visions on the part of various brethren, as well as by the prophet himself. On the 7th day of June 1831 the promise was fulfilled. Twenty nine persons of prominence were commissioned forth in order to fix the spot where the city should be builded, and the boundaries of the "eternal inheritance" established. Eleven of these, namely Sidney Rigdon, Bishop Partridge, Sidney Gilbert, Joseph Coe, Lyman Wight, John Corrill, John Murdock, Isaac Morley, Parley P. Pratt, Edson Fuller and Reynolds Cahoon are pretty certainly known to have been of Disciple antecedents. The previous religious connection of eleven others cannot be pronounced with any degree of accuracy. There was one Methodist -- Ezra Booth -- and






[641]



though he had never formally attached himself to that church, Joseph also might be reckoned to the Methodists; Martin Harris had last come from the party of the Restorationists; Hyrum Smith was of the Presbyterian and David Whitmer of the German Reformed persuasion. Two persons -- Orson Pratt and Samuel H. Smith -- had been attached to no other church prior to their perversion to Mormon tenets. It is clear that the Disciple element formed the most important contingent.

Though the assembly of the 7th of June was a memorable occasion, Joseph entered upon his journey to the "city" with a heavy heart. Unfortunately during the progress of the solemnities he had been carried far enough to try his skill at working miracles, but John Murdock's crooked hand gave no heed to the Word of the Lord pronounced in stentorian tones, neither would the crooked leg of another of the elders yield to that talisman; he walked a step or two and then resumed his crutches nevermore to lay them aside. The body of an infant child had been kept for two or three days in anticipation that it would be raised from the dead when the spirit should descend like a rushing mighty wind upon the assembly, but its sleep could not be broken and they were constrained to bury it out of sight (Howe, p. 190). A storm was clearly brewing on account of these failures; when the people came together on the following Sunday Mr. Rigdon conceived that the peril of an outbreak was so imminent that he incontinently dismissed the congregation and sent them to their homes by the nearest way (Howe, p. 191).






[642]



Another source of annoyance was the trouble that had broken out in the Colesville Branch which recently had been settled in Thompson. Partly by their own fault (D.&C., 54, 7), and partly by the fault of the landlord from whom they had leased the land (D.&C., 54, 5), the contract had been broken already before the meeting of the great assembly (Scraps of Biography, p. 70), and their further presence in Ohio was rendered impossible in case they wished to escape from the clutches of the law (D.&C., 54, 7). Joseph therefore shortly ordered the whole party to lay their course for Missouri, where they should sustain themselves as best they might until the site of Zion should be selected and consecrated (D.&C., 54, 8-9). According to the authority of Mr. Howe seventeen families composed the Colesville Branch (p. 124), and the problem of transferring them to a point so remote was not easy to solve.

Apparently the prophet had expected Joseph Knight, sen., and other members of the party to "consecrate" a sufficient portion of their comfortable property to defray the expense of the journey (D.&C., 56, 16); but as usual there was a hitch in the business. The poorer brethren also, who were eager to finger the surplus shekels of Mr. Knight were loud in their complaints, and in their turn gave so much annoyance as to invite a special reproof (D.&C., 56, 17-18).






[643]



But these difficulties were in due season surmounted and on the 3d day of July, having completed a land journey to that point on the Ohio River, the Colesville people took passage at Wellsville, and arrived at Independence on the 25th of July (Scraps of Biography, p. 70).

Another obstacle that met the prophet was the indisposition displayed by numbers of the elders to leave their families and their growing crops at that season of the year to go on a wild goose chase to the far west. Ezra Thayer was particularly obstreperous (D.&C., 56, 1-5) and had to be left behind. An amount of dissatisfaction must also have been felt that while provisions were made for the favored gentry to travel by public conveyance the majority of the brethren were expected to perform the journey on foot. Lyman Wight and John Corrill, Hyrum Smith and John Murdock went by the way of Detroit and had pleasant sailing across the lake. Lucy Smith appears to have been privy to this arrangement, and she was a member of the party. The purpose of sending them by the way of Detroit was to carry back to her home Miss Almira Mack, a niece of Mrs. Smith's who had come on a visit and been perverted to the pretensions of Joseph; but it was especially hoped that they would be fortunate enough to win the remaining members of the family, who then resided in Detroit and the adjacent portion of the country (Joseph Smith, pp. 196-202).






[644]



Joseph and Sidney on their part wished to make an appearance that would be as distinguished as they felt their persons and position to be. In order to defray the expenses of the progress they should perform, the former was careful to provide that the men who had the longest pockets should accompany them; Edward Partridge, Martin Harris, Sidney Gilbert and Joseph Coe were awarded the privilege of sustaining the charges. W. W. Phelps was admitted because he had just arrived from New York and was considered in the light of a first class accession.

By the 19th of June, the laggard brethren having now been dispatched, and annoyances being in a measure allayed, the prophet set forward, and arrived at Independence about the middle of July, having traversed the distance from St. Louis on foot. One of the most important things he carried about his clothes was a "recommend" (D.&C., 52, 41), which the church had given to himself and Sidney, and another that it was hoped would lift Oliver Cowdery several points higher in the estimation of government officials on the frontiers. This was no tour of investigation; it was firmly decided as early as the 7th of June that the "city" was to be sought for somewhere in the state of Missouri (D.&C., 52, 2); there was hardly any sort of question that Independence would be selected; the Colesville Branch were directed thither in advance of every formal decision touching that issue. Joseph was convinced that he must remove his habitation and that speedily.






[645]



His vision was intended to render the faithful content with Independence; Missouri was sedulously proclaimed to be the land of the saints' inheritance (D.&C., 52, 42). It was even given out that Oliver Cowdery had formed a church there, consisting of several hundred members (Howe, p. 202). The less time he should lose in crossing the Rubicon, the better it would be for all concerned; he was in narrow straits.

Arrived at Independence disappointment confronted him at every turn. The great church shrunk away to three or four females; the country was hot and rough, accommodations were scarce and rude; there was not a single trace of the magnificent visions of Zion which had been indulged in Kirtland. The town of Independence consisted of a new brick court house, two or three merchants' stores and 15 or 20 dwellings builded mostly of logs hewn on two sides (Howe, p. 196); but there was a schoolhouse in which the prophet found a place of lodging (Howe, p. 202). Everything appeared to go amiss, and it was not long before a brisk quarrel was in progress in which the divine wisdom of Joseph was impugned. Even the coward Sidney, who was eager to underrate the advantages of Independence, summoned courage enough to intimate that "Joseph's vision was a bad thing" (Howe, p. 177).

Joseph was a born ruler of men; it was a choice between Independence and ruin; he was swift to reach a decision; the disputes






[646]



that had come abroad were settled by revelation so speedily that there was but little chance for them to spread. Independence was forthwith announced to be "the place for the city of Zion" (D.&C., 57, 2); the very spot of the future temple in Zion was pointed out (D.&C., 57, 3), and it was commanded to purchase all the lands in the vicinity for an "everlasting inheritance" (D.&C., 57, 4-5). Thereupon Sidney Gilbert, who had been promoted to the office of Bishop's agent and keeper of the "Lord's store house," was commanded to open business in Independence (D.&C., 57, 8), and obtain all the money he could for the purpose of acquiring lands. In order that he might procure a portion of the Indian trade, he was instructed to send forth brethren to act as peddlers among them, who in addition to the labors of traffic should carry the "ancient gospel" and the other tenets of the Book of Mormon (D.&C., 57, 9-10). W. W. Phelps, who had men brought hither for that special purpose was enjoined to set up a printing office in the hope that his effusions would be appreciated by the Gentiles and bring revenues to the church; Oliver Cowdery was given to him as an assistant (D.&C., 57, 11-13).

This admirable decision of character had its effect; if Joseph had waited to lay these questions before a conference it would have been impracticable for him to carry a single one of them. He showed his admirable address by leaving the conference almost nothing to debate and conclude; the business was accomplished






[647]



beforehand; Independence was formally announced to be the spot where the Millennial "gathering" should occur (D.&C., 57, 15). The conference was held merely for the sake of appearance, because it had been predicted and promised before leaving Kirtland (D.&C., 53, 2). Ezra Booth reports: "We expected to assemble together in conference according to the commandment, and the Lord would signally display his power for the confirmation of our faith; but we commenced our journey homewards before most of the elders arrived. It is true a conference was held, but it was considered so important that myself and another man were permitted to be absent for the purpose of procuring means of conveyance down the river" (Howe, p. 194).

After the chief points had been decided by a revelation obtained during the month of July, Joseph's mouth was further opened by the spirit on the 1st of August in the course of which performance matters of minor moment were considered (D.&C., Sect. 58). It begins with words of consolation regarding the sore disappointment which had befallen the brethren at Independence, and stays there minds with comforts borrowed from the future (vv. 3-13); it chastens Edward Partridge for certain candid words presented to the prophet during the progress of a quarrel in the school house at Independence (vv. 14-16); renews the promises touching a theocracy and gives assurance that the "Law" which could not be kept in Ohio, should be kept in this land (vv. 17-19); but for fear lest some of his band of zealots might be induced by that assertion to proceed






[648]



to lengths that would be inadmissible he warns them to have a care of the laws of the state of Missouri (vv. 20-23). In as much as town lots would be required for the erection of the Lord's store house and for the printing house, Martin Harris, who still retained the remnants of his possessions in New York, was exhorted to provide the means necessary for the purchase of these two sites, and be an example to the church in laying his monies before the bishop of the church (vv. 24-39).

W. W. Phelps, the new convert and the Lord's printer, was a sorry blatherskite; he had given his brethren to understand that he had control of fourteen different languages, and they were beside themselves over the accession of such a marvelous polyglot. But languages were the chosen field where Mr. Smith disported himself and he did not enjoy the prospect of witnessing a rival there (Howe, p. 274). Consequently the spirit suggested a word for the benefit of Mr. Phelps as follows: "And also let my servant William W. Phelps stand in the office which I have appointed him, and receive his inheritance in the land; and also he hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me" (vv. 40, 41). The hopes of an ambitious schemer were rarely ever more neatly nipped in the bud.

Sidney Gilbert was duly appointed to the office of Bishop's agent in Zion; the office of bishop's agent in Kirtland was also created (v. 49),






[649]



and Newel K. Whitney, the business partner of Sidney Gilbert was subsequently appointed to occupy it (D.&C., 63, 42-49). Here was another decided increase of the power of Bishop Partridge, who in virtue of the control he was envisioned to exercise over his "agents," would hold the purse strings of the community and was becoming a formidable rival of the prophet.

The most distressing duty that was bestowed upon any of the brethren fell to the share of poor Mr. Rigdon. He was enjoined to set his hand to a project that was entirely against his convictions regarding the wisest policy for the community to adopt: "And I give unto my servant Sidney Rigdon a commandment that he shall write a description of the land of Zion, and a statement of the will of God, as it shall be made known by the Spirit unto him; and an epistle and a description, to be presented unto all the churches, to obtain monies to be put into the hands of the bishop to purchase lands for an inheritance for the children of God, of himself or the agent as seemeth him good, or as he shall direct" (vv. 50. 51).

Bishop Partridge had cautioned Rigdon, who was sadly afflicted by the weakness of exaggeration, to be careful of the terms in which he should express his account of the region of Zion; he replied, "what I write will be written by the most infallible inspiration of the Holy Spirit," and went his way in a noble burst of contempt (Howe, p. 208). But there was






[650]



a mistake somewhere: when the account was produced after Sidney's return to Kirtland it was received in the following fashion:

And now behold, verily I say unto you, I the Lord, am not pleased with my servant Sidney Rigdon; he exalted himself in his heart and received not counsel, but grieved the Spirit; wherefore his writing is not acceptable to the Lord, and he shall make another, and if the Lord receive it not, behold he standeth no longer in the office which I have appointed him (D.&C., 63, 55-56).
Sidney was likewise selected to "consecrate and dedicate this land and the spot of the temple unto the Lord" (v. 57), a function which met his taste for searing oratory well enough. The conference that had been long foretold was duly ordered (v. 58), after all the business that might come before it for deliberation had been fully performed by the voice of revelation; but care was taken to exempt the movements of the prophet and Sidney and Oliver from its authority, by commanding them to return straightway to Kirtland, while the residue of the elders might be ordered about after the caprices of the assembly.

Ziba Peterson, one of the original missionaries to the Lamanites, having allowed himself to express a suspicion touching the divine infallibility of Joseph was broken of his office, and degraded from the apostolate (v 60). That portion of the elders who had not yet arrived






[651]



from Kirtland were instructed when they should come to hold a conference in Zion under the direction of Elder Partridge, and then return to their places preaching the gospel by the wayside (vv. 61-2), and it was added "verily the sound must go forth from this place unto all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (v. 64); which when Mr. Rigdon had heard, he exclaimed-"The Lord has set us our stint; no matter how soon we perform it-for when this is done, he will make his second appearance" (Howe, p. 174). This amounted to an indefinite postponement of the day of the Lord.

On Tuesday the 2d of August, the ceremony of dedicating the land was enacted in Kaw township, about twelve miles westward from Independence and in the vicinity of Kansas City which is situated in that township. By revelation it had been announced that Independence was "the centre place" (D.&C., 57, 3), but the saints were enjoined to purchase all the land lying around the town, and especially that situated to the westward in the direction of the Indian country (D.&C., 57, 4). Kaw township appears to have been situated somewhere in the vicinity of the "line running directly between Jew and Gentile." Perhaps immediately after his arrival on the 25th of July Mr. Joseph Knight, sen., late of Colesville, New York, had been induced to quit the bedside of his dying wife long enough to invest some of his surplus capital in a tract of land, and as it was already in their possession, the dedication was in order by the 2d of August.

According to directions previously cited Sidney was entitled to precedence.






[652]



Ezra Booth supplies the following description of the occurrence:

"Rigdon consecrated the ground by an address in the first place to the God whom the Mormonites profess to worship; and then making some remarks respecting the extraordinary purpose for which we were assembled, prepared the way for administering the oath of allegiance to those who were to receive their "everlasting inheritance" in that city. He laid them under the most solemn obligations to constantly obey all the commandments of Smith. He enjoined it upon them to express a great degree of gratitude for the free donation, and then as the Lord's Vicegerent he gratuitously bestowed upon them that for which they had paid an exorbitant price in money. These preliminaries being ended, a shrub oak, about ten inches in diameter at the butt, the best that could be obtained near at hand, was prostrated, trimmed and cut off at a suitable length; and twelve men, answering to the twelve Apostles, by means of handspikes, conveyed it to the place. Cowdery craved the privilege of laying the corner stone. He selected a small rough stone, the best he could find, carried it to the spot in one hand, removed the surface of the earth to prepare a place for its reception, and then displayed his oratorical power in delivering an address suited to the important occasion. The stone being placed, one end of the shrub oak stick was laid upon it, and there were laid down the first stone and stick which are to form an essential part of the splendid city of Zion" (Howe, p. 198).





[653]



By the terms of the same revelation delivered on the first of August, Sidney was likewise instructed to "dedicate the spot of the temple unto the Lord" (D.&C., 58, 57); but on Wednesday the 3rd of August, when the business was in process, the prophet altered his notion, and himself claimed the honor of laying the corner stone (Howe, p. 199).

Concerning this occurrence, Ezra Booth supplies the following relation: Should the inhabitants of Independence feel a desire to visit this spot, destined at some future time to become celebrated, they will only have to walk half a mile out of town to a rise of ground, a short distance south of the road. They will be able to ascertain the spot by means of a sapling, distinguished from the others by the bark being broken off on the north and on the east side. On the south side of the sapling will be found the letter "T," which stands for Temple; and on the east side "Zom," for Zomas; which Smith says is the original word for Zion. Near the foot of the sapling they will find a small stone covered over with bushes which were cut for the purpose. This is the corner stone of the temple (Howe, p. 199). Men may smile if they like at these rude proceedings, but they indicate none the less a triumph for Joseph and his policy of removal to the far west.

On Thursday the 4th of August was holden, but merely in deference to appearances, the conference, whose proceedings had all been shrewdly anticipated by the






[654]



wily young prophet. On Sunday the 7th of August there was a pious assembly, in which Mr. Smith obtained a pious and correct revelation, signifying nothing in particular, except that his followers should be favored "with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time" (D.&C., 59, 4). On the same day he officiated at the funeral of Polly Knight, wife of Joseph Knight, sen., the saint who had the honor to die first on the land of promise (Tullidge, p. 120).

On the 8th of August having completed the work which he had expected to accomplish in Missouri Joseph made his last arrangements for a return to Kirtland. A revelation was considered necessary for the occasion and it was accordingly imparted (D.&C., Section 60). On the 9th in company with ten elders, perhaps the majority of the number who had already effected their arrival at Independence he began his journey towards Ohio in triumph. He had succeeded in amusing his people by a change; in establishing the foundations of a settlement which could be pointed at as an ideal by all who might be dissatisfied with the actual course of affairs at Kirtland; in providing the homeless Colesville Branch with a place of residence, and in firmly fixing the foundations of his power. Whoever might have been disappointed Mr. Smith had many reasons to be content with the progress he had made in the land of Zion.



 



[655]



Chapter X.
A Crestfallen Prophet.

Everything went well with Joseph and Sidney until they set forward on the return to Kirtland. They were both solicitous for the moment of their departure to arrive as speedily as possible. A revelation commanding them to be gone as early as convenient was given already on the first day of August (D.&C., 58, 58).

Having now effected all the projects that he had in mind Mr. Smith on the 8th of August received a second and more formal divine communication touching the journey that lay before him (D.&C., Sect. 60). It contained a special direction to the effect that a river craft should be made or purchased (v 5), although Ezra Booth says that provisions of that sort had been on foot for several days prior to the date when the sacred commission was delivered. It will be remembered that himself and another person were excused from attending the conference that was held at the house of Joshua Lewis in Kaw township, twelve miles west of Independence on the fourth of August, because they were engaged in procuring a canoe to convey them down the river (Howe, p. 194).

The revelation directed that the party should proceed in the crafts that should be procured, as far as St. Louis, where Joseph Sidney and Oliver might find a steamboat going to Cincinnati, while the balance of the company were expected to travel by couples through the country on foot, and preach the gospel by the way (vv. 5-9). Edward Partridge was instructed






[656]



to supply such of the elders as chanced to be impecunious with a portion of the funds which had come into his hands in the character of bishop, and it was promised that the money would be replaced through the agent, Sidney Gilbert, who was to be a member of the company. A word of counsel was left for the benefit of those elders who had not been fortunate enough to arrive prior to the departure of the prophet. Possibly some of the brethren had come into peril of a broken head for insolence displayed in shaking off the dust of their feet against the inhospitable; that command was now modified so that the elders were directed to perform that duty not in the presence of those who might reject them, but to wash their feet in secret as a testimony against them in the day of judgment (v. 15).

The departure was effected on the 9th of August. Mr. Smith reports that there were ten elders and sixteen canoes in the company, and that "nothing very important occurred until the third day, when many of the dangers so common upon the western waters began to manifest themselves" (Tullidge, p. 120). Ezra Booth, supplies a circumstantial account of this untoward mischance which intimates that the kindest concord had not prevailed in the little fleet, and that a spirit of animosity and discord had appeared on board the morning after they left Independence, in consequence of the lofty airs that were assumed by Oliver Cowdery.

On the afternoon of the third day Joseph, who must have been little






[657]



skilled in the lore of water craft, assumed the direction of affairs on board the canoe where he was. The crew were highly irritated, and in time of danger refused to put forth their strength, with the result of striking against one of the numerous obstacles that were concealed beneath the surface of the turbid river. Joseph and Sidney were both cowards by birth, and this taste of danger perturbed their spirits to such an extent they were not content to proceed any farther by that means of conveyance. They had no fancy for a grave in those waters. By the persuasion of Joseph the party landed before nightfall and established a camp on the bank of the river, much better pleased to stand on terra firma.

After making themselves as comfortable as their situation would allow they gave their minds to the labor of composing the differences that had sprung up among them. This was no slight enterprise; it required the greater portion of the night of the 11th of August. Joseph and Oliver were both given to hear some of the plainest words that had ever reached their ears from the lips of the brethren, while himself and Sidney were reprimanded for excessive cowardice. The explosion was almost fatal to the cause; the influence of the prophet was within a little of being broken. Before the dawn of day however, it was granted to his skill and persistence to effect a reconciliation which averted disaster (Howe, pp. 204-5).

But the alarm of Joseph and Sidney was too intense for them again






[658]



to entrust their persons to the frail canoes which had borne them as far as McIlwair's Bend from the landing at Independence. They decided to perform the remainder of the journey to St. Louis by land.

But this conclusion involved a serious difficulty; the revelation of the 8th of August had commanded that the entire company should proceed as far as St. Louis in the canoes before separating. It was not easy to show any good reason why they should disobey that divine injunction, by leaving the river and sacrificing the canoes which had been paid for with current money, when the distance for which they had been procured was only half completed. Whether of his own suggestion or by collusion with Joseph, Mr. W. W. Phelps now came to the support of his chief, by alleging the appearance of an open vision by daylight, in which he saw "the Destroyer in his most horrible power ride upon the face of the waters. Others heard the noise, but saw not the vision" (Tullidge, p. 120). This afforded timely relief, and Joseph immediately obtained a revelation contradicting that of the 8th of August (D.&C., Section 61).

The elders were chastised for riding swiftly upon the waters while souls were perishing upon either bank and this position was reconciled with the previous command that they should ride upon the waters, by the consideration that the Lord had enjoined them to do it merely that they might become aware of the dangers of navigation and bear witness thereof (vv. 3-5).






[659]



For the sake of effect the title "River of Destruction" was applied to the Missouri river (Howe, p. 206). Thus all of the elders were driven from the canoes and constrained to grasp again the staff of the foot traveler.

This would not have occasioned so much discontent if it had not been suspected that Joseph and Sidney and Oliver did not intend to march on foot, but at the earliest convenient station would resort to the stage coach, or hire a vehicle. The money that had been supplied to them by Bishop Partridge at Independence did not suffice to cover that additional expense, and the trio went about to beg from their brethren the far smaller amounts which had been committed to them from the same source. In reply to objections that were advanced, Sidney affirmed that the Lord did not care how much money it required to bring them to their home, while the others should be content to beg their passage (Howe, p. 206). This course of conduct however was not believed to be consistent with the loud professions of equality that had been sent forth both in the Book of Mormon and in the revelations of Joseph.

At St. Louis the trio entered a steamboat and came to Cincinnati, with a fair degree of comfort; but they failed to obey the divine command that had obtained to proclaim the "ancient gospel" in that city. In truth, they were under the necessity of pawning their trunk at that place in order to obtain enough money to carry them to Kirtland (Howe, p. 207), where they arrived on the 27th day of August, glad to be at home before






[660]



any of the others from Missouri could draw nigh and poison the minds of the believers, by unfavorable accounts of the happenings that befell upon the expedition to Independence.

No sooner had he entered Kirtland than Joseph perceived that the atmosphere of the place was sultry and betokened a storm. There were "wicked and rebellious" people on every hand; but he was able to thrust them aside by the aid of a revelation in which he uncovered some of the secret sins of his opponents (D.&C., Sect. 63). The death of Polly Knight in Zion had been heard of and it produced an ill impression upon the minds of members who fancied that on sacred soil death and sorrow would be unknown (v. 3). In a word the faith of many had shrunken to so small a size that they were asking after signs as wickedly as any Gentile (vv. 7-12). Things had come to such a pass that the Lord was constrained for the moment to suspend all commandments and to be content with the resource of mere advice (vv. 22-24).

William W. Phelps had been abundantly rewarded for his open vision by daylight on the Missouri river by being permitted in company with Sidney Gilbert to return to Kirtland by public conveyance instead of wearing out his feet by long marches across the country (D.&C., 61, 9-12); but poor Isaac Morley was less fortunate. He had been the companion in travel of Ezra Booth, the former Methodist preacher. The prophet was suspicious of the attitude of Booth, and feared






[661]



lest Morley might be in sympathy with him. Accordingly, he decided before this couple had time to arrive on the 1st of September (Howe, p. 202), that it would be prudent to give orders to the effect that the farm upon which the common stock community under Morley's direction had existed for several years, should be sold by Titus Billings, who had it in charge during the absence of Isaac (D.&C., 62, 38-39).

After several interviews with Joseph and Sidney in the course of which they were able to give no satisfactory explanation of their conduct in deserting the Missouri river under stress of peril, Ezra Booth declared his independence of the entire movement and took final leave of Kirtland. In a revelation given on the 11th of September 1831, the prophet supplies the following allusion to the incidents in question: "Behold I the Lord was angry with him who was my servant Ezra Booth, and also my servant Isaac Morley, for they kept not the law, neither the commandment; they sought evil in their hearts, and I the Lord withhold my Spirit. They condemned for evil that thing in which there was no evil; nevertheless I have forgiven my servant Isaac Morley" (D.&C., 64, 15-6). Thus it came to pass that the influences that were brought to bear upon Isaac Morley after his arrival at Kirtland were strong enough to prevent him following the counsels and example of Mr. Booth. Thereupon an explanation was conceded to Mr. Morley regarding the injunction that






[662]



his farm should be immediately disposed of: "And again I say unto you, that my servant Isaac Morley may not be tempted above that he is able to bear, and counsel wrongfully to your hurt, I gave commandment that his farm should be sold" (D.&C., 64, 20). In other words if the farm upon which the common stock community resided should continue in the possession of Mr. Morley, it was to be apprehended that he would be so well content with Kirtland as to join the side of the faction who desired to remain there, and might find himself in a situation to place a number of obstacles in the way of an exodus to Zion.

But it was difficult for Mr. Smith to regain his equilibrium. He felt himself constrained to make a confession of his sins and to desire the forgiveness of his brethren (D.&C., 64, 7-11). He was decidedly crestfallen, and perhaps could have wished that his conduct had been more courageous on the River of Destruction. The obstacles that stood in his way were found to be greater than his strength would surmount. Before the expedition to Missouri it was the current expectation that they would pass but one more winter in the state of Ohio. Now it became apparent that this project could not be executed, and the saying went abroad: "It will be many years before we come to Zion, for the Lord has a great work for us to do in Ohio" (Howe, p. 199).

This change of policy was indicated in certain provisions touching






[663]



the property that was owned by certain wealthier members of the church. For example: "I will not that my servant Frederick G. Williams should sell his farm, for I the Lord will retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years in the which I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I may save some" (D.&C., 64, 21). A like favor was extended to the mercantile firm of Gilbert & Whitney: "And it is not meet that my servants Newel K. Whitney and Sidney Gilbert should sell their store and their possessions here, for this is not wisdom until the residue of the church which remaineth in this place shall go up to the land of Zion" (D.&C., 64, 26). It was hardly an easy enterprise to explain to poor Isaac Morley the reason why so much favor should be shown to these persons while he was so decidedly dealt with.

Speaking of this change of policy Mr. Howe remarks: "Instead of selling their possessions in Ohio, they again began to buy up improved land, mills and water privileges. It would seem that the Missouri country began to look rather dreary to the prophet and his head men, supposing that they could not enjoy their power there as well as in Ohio" (Howe, p. 130). The chief enterprise now in their minds was to "push the people together from the ends of the earth" and bring them up to Zion. It would require the sternest sacrifices to accomplish this task. Joseph assured the unbelievers that the time was brief and that the Lord would not spare any that "remained in Babylon" (D.&C., 64, 24).






[664]



This latter phrase was one of the choice flowers of the "dialect of Bethany." It was derived from an "oration" that Mr. Campbell delivered at Versailles, Kentucky in the month of December 1827 (Christian Baptist, pp. 300-312), and it is still in high favor among the Disciples. One can scarcely read in any of their publications without encountering it.

After the difficulties that beset his path were partially cleared away, Mr. Smith found it feasible to quit Kirtland to take up his residence at the neighboring town of Hiram, Ohio. The date of this removal to Hiram is given as the 12th of September 1831 (Tullidge, p. 121).



continue reading on: p. 665



Return to top of the page



Return to: Beginning of the Book   |   More about:  William H. Whitsitt
Return to: Sidney Rigdon Home Page   |   Rigdon's History   |   Mormon Classics E-Texts


last revised Aug. 21, 2006