, Letter, , Lancashire, England, to JS, , Hancock Co., IL, 3 Feb. 1841. Featured version published in Times and Seasons, 1 May 1841, vol. 2, no. 13, 400–402. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter to Isaac Galland, 22 Mar. 1839.
Written on 3 February 1841 in , England, ’s letter to JS in , Illinois, recounted Taylor’s travel to and proselytizing work in the British Isles during the previous year and a half.
In July 1838, JS dictated a revelation appointing and three other men to fill vacant positions in the . The revelation instructed the Twelve to “go over the great waters and there promulge [promulgate] my gospel.” The revelation’s call to fulfill a proselytizing mission abroad “next spring” allowed the apostles some time for preparation, but it likely tested their commitment, as it came on the cusp of the 1838 conflict between the and other Missourians that resulted in many deaths, the incarceration of JS and other church leaders, and the expulsion of the Latter-day Saints from , which led the Saints to flee to and . As a result of the expulsion, most Saints lived in temporary housing and in poor conditions. Taylor and his family temporarily resided in a one-room section of a “miserable, old log barrack” in , Iowa Territory, and, though they were grateful for this lodging, they nevertheless lacked many basic necessities. Despite these hardships, Taylor and the other apostles began preparing for their mission overseas.
On 8 August 1839, set out for the British Isles with , who was “severely afflicted with fever.” Shortly after departing , Taylor also came down with a high fever, an illness that almost took his life; because of his extreme illness, he and Woodruff eventually parted ways as Woodruff left Taylor behind to recover. Taylor later met fellow apostle in , Ohio, and they continued to . When Taylor arrived in in November, he and Woodruff reunited and booked passage to with , a member of the . At the conclusion of a stormy, three-week crossing of the Atlantic, the men arrived in on 11 January 1840. After his arrival in England, Taylor spent most of his time in Liverpool but also preached in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man.
expressed his intention to send the letter featured here the day after he completed it by “Steam Packet,” or mail steamer. The letter probably arrived in sometime within the next five to eight weeks. That JS received the letter is confirmed by its publication in the May 1841 issue of Times and Seasons, the church periodical in Nauvoo. The original letter is apparently no longer extant. JS, who had two months earlier replied to several letters from the Twelve in a general letter to the group, apparently never responded directly to this letter from Taylor.
John Taylor, Letter to the Editor, Millennial Star, May 1841, 2:13; John Taylor, Germantown, IN, to Leonora Cannon Taylor, Commerce, IL, 19 Jan. 1839, John Taylor, Collection, CHL; see also Esplin, “Sickness and Faith, Nauvoo Letters,” 425–434.
JS had written to the Twelve in England: “Having several communications laying before me, from my Brethren the ‘Twelve’ some of which have ere this merited a reply, but from the multiplicity of business which necessarily engages my attention I have delayed communicating to them, to the present time.” (Letter to Quorum of the Twelve, 15 Dec. 1840.)
, Feb. 3rd, 1841
Very Dear Brother:—
Peace be to you and your household, and may the blessings of the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob rest upon you, and abide with you for ever, and ever, Amen.
I have to apologise for being so long in writing to you, as month after month has rolled along in quick sucession since ever I performed that duty, or dropped a line to that man whom above all others upon the face of the earth, I have the greatest reason to respect; because God has done it, and chosen him from among all the nations of the earth as the honored instrument to whom he would reveal himself, commit the of the kingdom unto; and by whose means he would usher in the “fulness of the dispensation of times,” gather his Israel, bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, redeem the earth from under the curse, and prepare a people for that time when the earth should resume its paradistic glory, creation be delivered from under the curse, and all creation praise the Lord, that dispensation which cheered the hearts of Patriarchs, and Prophets, and Apostles, that restitution the thought of which dried the martyrs tear, soothed the pillow of the dying saint; supported his prophets when strangers, and pilgrims, upheld and cheered them in prisons, in dens, in caves, in dungeons, in death; for they had respect to the recompense of reward. That dispensation which has employed the energies of dead (living saints) to accomplish, even Abel, Enoch, Noah, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Eligah, Our Savior, Peter, Moroni, Alma, Amalek, Nephi,—and Michael, and all the , who according to the councils of God, the decrees of heaven, the order of the priesthood, the eternal purpose of Jehovah have selected the man, set in order the priesthood, ushered in that dispensation of which they all wrote, all prophesied of, all looked forward too, all anticipated, all died in the faith of: which faith we participate of, which blessing we enjoy; which glory we expect to see brought about through the mercy of God the intercession of Jesus, and the united energies of living and dead saints, we being made perfect by them and they by us.—
I thank God my Heavenly Father, that ever I heard the sound of this gospel, and received a part in this priesthood. I received it with greater joy than earthly treasures, than the effervescent praise of man, or all the empty bubbles of earthly honor. And I pray [p. 400]
There is no earlier extant letter from John Taylor in Britain that is addressed to JS, even though Taylor departed Nauvoo for his mission eighteen months earlier. (John Taylor, Letter to the Editor, Millennial Star, May 1841, 2:13.)
A March 1832 revelation declared that JS had received “the keys of the Kingdom.” This language drew on the New Testament record of Christ promising Peter he would receive “the keys of the kingdom of heaven”; it also appears in other, earlier church writings. (Revelation, 15 Mar. 1832 [D&C 81:2]; Matthew 16:19; see also Revelation, 30 Oct. 1831 [D&C 65:2].)