[Joseph Smith Diary] 16th December 1838
Liberty Jail, Missouri
To the Church of Latter day Saints in Caldwell County, and all the Saints who are scattered abroad, [who] are persecuted and made desolate, and are afflicted in divers manners for Christ's sake and the Gospel's and whose perils are greatly augmented by the wickedness and corruption of false brethren.
May grace, mercy, and the peace of God be and abide with you and notwithstanding all your sufferings we assure you that you have our prayers and fervent desires for your welfare and salvation both day and night. We believe that that God who seeth us in this solitary place will hear our prayers and reward you openly.
Know assuredly Dear Brethren that it is for the testimony of Jesus that we are in bonds and in prison. But we say unto you that we consider that our condition is better, (notwithstanding our suffering) than those who have persecuted us and smitten us and borne false witness against us, and we most assuredly believe that those who bear false witness against us do seem to have a great triumph over us for the present.
We want you to remember Haman and Mordecai. You know that Haman could not be satisfied so long as he saw Mordecai at the King's gate. He sought the life of Mordecai and the people of the Jews, But God so ordered that Haman was hanged upon his own gallows. So shall it come to pass with poor Haman in the last days. Those who have sought by their unbelief and wickedness and by the principle of mobocracy to destroy us and the people of God by killing and scattering them abroad and wilfully and maliciously delivering us into the hands of murderers desiring us to be put to death thereby having us dragged about in chains and cast into prison, and for what cause? It is because we were honest men and were determined to defend the lives of the Saints at the expense of our own.
I say unto you that those who have thus viiely treated us like Haman shall be hanged upon their own gallows, or in other words, shall fall into their own gin and snare and ditch and trap which they have prepared for us and shall go backwards and stumble and fall, and /their/ names shall be blotted out, and God shall reward them according to all their abominations.
Dear Brethren, do not think that our hearts faint as though some strange thing had happened unto us for we have seen and been assured of all these things beforehand, and have had an assurance of a better hope than that of our persecutors, therefore God hath made broad our shoulders for the burden.
We glory in our tribulations because we know that God is with us, that he is our friend and that he will save our souls. We do not care for them that kill the body; they cannot harm our souls; we ask no favors at the hands of mobs, nor of the world, nor of the Devil, nor of his emissaries the Dissenters, and those who love and make and swear falsehoods, to take away our lives.
We have never dissembled, nor will we for the sake of our lives, forasmuch then as we know that we have been endeavoring with all our minds, mights, and strength to do the will of God and all things whatsoever he has commanded us. And as to our light observations from time to time they have nothing to do with the fixed purposes of our hearts.
Therefore it sufficeth us to say that our souls were vexed from day to day. We refer you to Isai[a]h who considers those who make a man an offender for a word and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. We believe that the old Prophet verily told the truth, we have no retraction to make, we have reproved in the gate and men have laid snares for us, we have spoken words and men have made us offenders, and notwithstanding all this our minds are not yet darkened but feel strong in the Lord. But behold the words of the Saviour, "If the light which is in you become darkness, behold how great is that darkness."
Look at the dissenters. Again if you were of the world, the world would love its own. Look at Mr. Hinkle [who negotiated the surrender at Far West]. A wolf in sheep's clothing. Look at his Brother John Corrill. Look at the beloved Reed Peck who aided him by /in/ leading us, as the Saviour was led, into the camp as a lamb prepared for the slaughter and a sheep dumb before his shearer so we opened not our mouths. But these men like Balaam being greedy for [a] reward sold us into the hands of those who loved them, for the world loves his own.
I would remember W[illiam] W. Phelps who comes up before us as one of Job's destroyers. God suffered such kind of beings to afflict Job, but it never entered into their hearts that Job would get out of it all. This poor man who professes to be much of a Prophet has no other dumb ass to ride only David Whitmer to forbid his madness when he goes up to curse Israel. And this ass, not being of the same kind of Balaam's, therefore the angel notwithstanding he appeared unto him yet he could /not/ penetrate his understanding sufficiently so but what he brays out cursings instead of blessings. Poor Ass whoever lives to see it will see him and his rider perish like those who perished in the gain saying of Core, or after the same condemnation.
Now as for these and the rest of their company we will not presume to say that the world loves them but we presume to say that they love the world and we classify them in the error of Balaam and in the gainsaying of Core and with the company of Cora, Dathan, and Abiram. Perhaps our brethren may say because we thus write that we are offended at those Characters! If we are, it is not for a word neither because they reproved in the gate, but because they have been the means of shedding innocent blood. Are they not murderers then at heart? Are not their consciences seared as with a hot iron?
We confess that we are offended, but the Saviour said, "It must needs be that offences come but woe unto them by whom they come, and again blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil fals[e]ly for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad for great is your reward in heaven for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you."
Now brethren, if any men ever had reason to claim this promise we are the men, for we know that the world not only hates us but they speak all manner of evil of us falsely for no other reason than that we have been endeavoring to teach the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. After we were bartered away by Hinkle and were taken into the militia camp, we had all the evidence we could have asked for that the world hated us. If there were Priests among them of all the different sects they hated us and that most cordially too. If there [were] Generals they hated us, if there were Colonels they hated us, and the soldiers and officers of all classes hated us, and the most profane blasphemers and drunkards and whoremongers hated us. They all hated us most cordially.
And now what did they hate us for? Purely because of the testimony of Jesus Christ. Was it because we ar[e] liars? We know that it is reported by some but it is reported falsely. Was it because we have committed treason against the state in Daviess County or of burglary, or of larceny or arson, or any other unlawful act in Daviess county?
We know that Priests and certain lawyers and certain judges who are the instigators, aiders, and abettors of a certain gang of murderers and robbers who have been carrying on a scheme of mobocracy to uphold their priestcraft against the saints of the last days for a number of years. Who have by a well contemplated and premedi[t]ated scheme to put /down/ by physical operation a system of religion that all the world by all their mutual attainments and any fair means whatever were not able to resist.
Hence, mobbers were encouraged by Priests and Levites, by the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and Essenees, and the Herodians, and every other [ - ] and -ite egging on the most ruthless, abandoned, and debauched and lawless, inhuman, and beastly set of men that the earth can boast of. Indeed, a parallel cannot be found any where else, to gather together to drive, to steal, to plunder, to starve, and to exterminate and burn the houses of the Mormons.
These are the characters that by their treasonable and overt acts have desolated and laid waste Daviess County. These are the characters that would fain make all the world believe that we are guilty of the above-named acts, but they represent us falsely. We stood in our defence and we believe that no man of us acted only in a just, a lawful, and righteous retaliation against such marauders.
We say unto you that we have not committed treason, neither any other unlawful act in Daviess County. Was it for murder in Ray County against Mob Militia? Who was a wolf in [the] first instance, Hide and hair, teeth, legs, and tail, who afterwards put on a Militia sheepskin well tanned with the wool on, who could sally forth in the day time into the flock and snarl and show his teeth, and scatter and devour the flock and satiate himself upon his prey, and then sneak back into the brambles in order that he might conceal himself in his well tryed skin with the wool on?
We are well aware that there is a certain set of Priests and satellites and mobbers that would fain make all the world believe that we are the dogs that barked at this howling wolf that made such havoc among the sheep. Who when he retreated he howled and bl[e]ated at such a desperate rate that if one could have been there he would have thought that all the wolves whether wrapped up in sheep skins or in goat skins or in any other skins and in fine all the beast[s] of the forest were awfully alarmed and catching the scent of innocent blood, they sallied forth with a tremendous howl and crying of all sort[s] and such a howling and such a tremenduous havoc never was known. Such a piece of inhumanity and relentless cruelty and barbarity cannot be found in all the annals of history.
These are the characters that would make the world believe that we had committed murder by making an attack upon this howling wolf while we were at home and in our beds and asleep and knew nothing of the transaction any more than we know what is going on in China while we are within these walls.
Therefore we say again unto you in these things they have represented us falsely. Was it for committing adultery? We are aware that false slander has gone abroad for it has been reiterated in our ears. These are falsehoods also. Renegade Mormon dissenters run abroad into the world and spread various false and libelous reports against us thinking thereby to gain the friendship of the world because they know that we are not of the world and that the world hates us; therefore they make a toast of these characters [and] by them try to do all the injury they can and after that they hate them worse than they do us because they find them to be base traitors and sycophants. Such characters God hates; we cannot love them. The world hates them and we sometimes think that even Satan ought to be ashamed of them.
We have heard that it is reported by some that some of us should have said that we not only dedicated our property but our families also to the Lord; and Satan taking advantage of this has transfigured it into licentiousness such as a community of wives which is an abomination in the sight of God.
When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the poor and the needy, for this is the law of God. It is not for the purpose of the rich, those who have no need. And when a man consecrates or dedicates his wife and children, he does not give them to his neighbour, nor to his brother, for there is no such law. For the law of God is that thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt /not/ covet thy neighbor's wife. He that looketh on a woman to lust after her has committed adultery /already/ in his heart.
Now for a man to consecrate his property and his wife and children to the Lord is nothing more or less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and the fatherless, the sick, and the afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief in their afflictions, and for him and his house to serve the Lord. In order to do this, he and all his house must be virtuous and must shun the very appearance of evil.
Now if any person has represented anything other wise than what we now write he or she is a liar and has represented us falsely and this is another manner of evil which is spoken against us falsely.
We have learned also, since we have been prisoners, that many /false/ and pernicious things, which were calculated to lead the saints far astray and to do them great injury as coming from the Presidency, [were] taught by Dr. [Sampson] Avard. We have reason to fear many other designing and corrupt characters like unto himself which the Presidency never knew of being taught in the Church by any body untill after they were made prisoners, which if they had known of they woud have spurned them and their authors from them as they would the very gates of hell.
Thus we find there have been frauds and secret abominations and evil works going on leading the minds of the weak and unwary into confusion and distraction, and pawning it all the while upon the Presidency, while mean time the Presidency were ignorant, as well as innocent of these things, which were practicing [being practiced] in the church in their name. [This, while the members of the Presidency] were attending to their own secular and family concerns, weighed down with sorrow, in debt, in poverty, in hunger assaying to be fed. Yet finding themselves receiving deeds of charity, but inadequate to their subsistence, and because they /we/ received those deeds they were envied and hated by those who professed to be [our] own friends.
But notwithstanding we thus speak, we honor the church when we speak of the church, as a church, for their liberality, kindness, patience, and long suffering, and their continued kindness towards us. And now brethren, we say unto you, what more can we enumerate? Is not all manner of evil of every description spoken of us falsely? Yea, we say unto you, falsely we have been misrepresented and misunderstood and belied. And the purity and integrity and uprightness of our hearts have not been known. And it is through ignornace, yea, the very depth of ignorance is the cause of it, and not only ignorance but on the part of some gross wickedness and hypocracy also who by a long face and sanctimonious prayers and very pious sermons had power to lead the minds of the ignorant and unwary and thereby obtain such influence that when we approached their iniquities the Devil gained great advantage [and] would bring great sorrow and trouble on our heads.
In fine, we have waded through an ocean of tribulation, and mean abuse practice[d] upon us by the illbred and the ignorant such as [George] Hinkle, [John] Corrill, [William W.] Phelps, [Sampson] Avard, Reed Peck, [John] Cleminson, and various others who are so very ignorant that they cannot appear respectable in any decent and civilized society, and whose eyes are full of adultery and cannot cease from sin.
Such characters as [William] McLellin, John Whitmer, D[avid] Whitmer, O[liver] Cowdery, and Martin Harris, who are too mean to mention and we had liked to have forgotten. [Thomas] Marsh and [Orson] Hyde whose hearts are full of corruption, whose cloak of hypocrisy was not sufficient to shield them or to bear them up in the hour of trouble, who after having escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ became again entangled and overcame. Their latter end is worse than the beginning. But it has happened /unto them/ according to the words of the Saviour, "The dog has returned to his vomit, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
Again, if we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but rather a certain fearful looking of judgement and fiery indignation to come which shall devour these adversaries. For [if] he who despiseth Moses' Law died without mercy under two or three witnesses, of how much sorer punishment suppose ye shall he be thought worthy who hath sold his brother and denied the new and everlasting covenant by which he was santified calling it an unholy thing and doing [evil] despite [his claim] unto the spirit of grace.
And again we say unto you, inasmuch as there be virtue in us and the Holy Priesthood hath been conferred upon us, and the keys of the kingdom have not been taken from us. For verily thus saith the Lord, "Fear not, but be of good cheer. For the keys which I gave unto you are yet with you!"
Therefore we say unto you, Dear Brethren in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we deliver these Characters unto the buffetings of Satan, until the day of redemption, that they may be dealt with according to their works, and from henceforth their works shall be made manifest.
And now Dear and Well-beloved Brethren and when we say Brethren, we mean those who have continued faithful in ChristÂ—Men, Women, and Children, we feel to exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus to be strong in the faith of the new and everlasting covenant, and nothing fright[en]ed at your enemies. For what has happened unto us is an evident token to them of damnation but unto us of Salvation and that of God. Therefore hold on even unto death, "For he that seeks to save his life shall loose it, but he that looseth his life for my sake and the Gospel's shall find it," sayeth Jesus Christ.
Brethren, from henceforth let truth and righteousness abound in you; and in all things be temperate, abstain from drunkeness and from swearing and from all profane language, and from every thing which is unrighteous or unholy; also from enmity and hatred, and covetousness, and from every unholy desire. Be honest one with another, for it seemeth that some have come short of these things, and some have been uncharitable and have manifested greediness because of their debts towards those who have been persecuted and dragged about in chains without cause and imprisoned. Such characters God hates and shall have their turn of sorrow in the rolling of the great wheel for it rolleth and none can hinder. Zion shall yet live, though she seemeth to be dead. Remember that whatsoever measure you meet out to others it shall be measured unto you again. We say unto you Brethren be not afraid of your adversaries. Contend earnestly against mobs, and the unlawful works of dissenters and of da
rkness. And the very God of peace shall be with you and make a way for your escape from the adversary of your souls.
We commend you to God and the word of His grace which is able to make us wise unto Salvation. Amen.
Joseph Smith, Jr. (1)
-- Nov 8, 1838
General Wilson surrounds Adam-ondi-Ahman, Adam Black convenes a court of inquiry. Joseph and other prisoners in Independence start for Richmond with three guards who get drunk. Prisoners take their arms and horses but apparently do not attempt to escape. (2)
1 - Faulring, Scott (ed.), An American Prophet's Record: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith: Joseph Smith Diary, 1838, http://amzn.to/jsdiaries
2 - Kenny, Scott, Saints Without Halos, "Mormon History 1830-1844," http://saintswithouthalos.com/dirs/d_c.phtml
LDS History Chronology: the Word of Wisdom
Mormon Timeline: the Word of Wisdom