“Elders” (including JS), Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to “brethren in Christ, and companions in tribulation,” ca. Mar. 1834. Featured version published in “The Elders of the Church in Kirtland, to Their Brethren Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, Mar. 1834, 142–144. For more complete source information on The Evening and the Morning Star, see the source note for Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.
This March 1834 letter is the second installment of a serialized epistle that instructed bearers and other church members who were then away from , Ohio. JS and other leaders in Kirtland prepared this installment for publication in the church’s newspaper, The Evening and the Morning Star. Following an exhortation to serve diligently, endure hardship, and emulate Jesus Christ, the installment featured here continued the discussion on the differences between heavenly law and human-made law that had commenced in the February 1834 issue of the Star. According to this March epistle, transgression of God’s law made it impossible for the transgressor to return to God’s presence, except through Jesus Christ, who offered redemption through faith in the efficacy of his sacrifice, and through participation in . The letter also stated that God revealed “the whole plan of the gospel,” with its ordinances, in all ages. JS and the Kirtland leaders also exhorted the readers of this letter to improve themselves, especially in the face of growing persecution, and to remain obedient to God’s law. JS and the other elders responsible for writing this letter also expounded upon several other themes, including and eternal life, the law of sacrifice, and continuing revelation.
The next installment of this series appeared in the April issue of the church’s newspaper and omitted the “instruction upon the regulation of the church” that had been promised at the end of the installment featured here. Church leaders perhaps intended to discuss the topic in another issue. However, even though the third installment ended with “To be continued,” no further installments were published. The effort to redeem through recruiting volunteers and conducting the expedition to in spring and summer 1834 was undoubtedly a factor in the discontinuation of this series.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.
THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH IN KIRTLAND, TO THEIR BRETHREN ABROAD.
(Continued from our last.)
Dear brethren in Christ, and companions in tribulation.
HAVING in a former number of the Star, written you quite lengthy on some few items connected with the religion which we profess, we deem it of importance to the cause in which all our united efforts ought, with an eye single to the glory of God, to be engaged, that we may escape the corruptions of the world, and not only show ourselves approved in his sight, but may be instruments in the order of his providence in convincing some of our fellow-travellors to eternity of the importance of turning from error to righteousness, and embracing the fulness of the everlasting gospel—to continue this letter of instruction and exhortation, believing, (as we have previously remarked,) that on your part it will be received in brotherly fellowship. We would remind you, brethren, of the fateagues, trials, privations, and persecutions, which the ancient saints endured for the only purpose of persuading men of the excellency and propriety of the faith of Christ, were it in our opinion necessary, or would serve in any respect to stimulate you to labor in the vineyard of the Lord with any more diligence; but we have reason to believe, (if you make the holy a sufficient part of your studies,) that their perseverance is known to you all; and that they were willing to sacrifice the present honors and pleasures of this world, that they might obtain an assurance of a crown of life from the hand of our Lord; and their excellent examples in labor, which manifests their zeal to us in the cause which they embraced, you are daily striving to pattern. And not only these, but the of our Lord, we hope, are constantly revolving in your hearts, teaching you, not only his will in proclaiming his gospel, but his meekness and perfect walk before all, even in those times of severe persecutions and abuse which were heaped upon him by a wicked and adulterous generation. Remember, brethren, that he has called you unto holiness; and need we say, to be like him in purity? How wise; how holy; how chaste, and how perfect, then, you ought to conduct yourselves in his sight; and remember too, that his eyes are continually upon you. Viewing these facts in a proper light, you cannot be insensible, that without a strict observance of all his divine requirements, you may, at last, be found wanting; and if so, you will admit, that your lot will be cast among the unprofitable servants.— We beseech you, therefore brethren, to improve upon all things committed to your charge, that you lose not your reward!
No doubt, the course which we pursued in our last to you, is yet familiar to your minds; that we there endeavored to show, as far as our limits would extend, the propriety, in part of adhering to the law of heaven; and also, the consistency in looking to heaven for a law or rule to serve us as a guide in this present state of existence, that we may be prepared to meet that which inevitably awaits us, as well as all mankind.— There is an importance, perhaps, attached to this subject, which the world has not as fully examined as the importance of it requires. Think for a moment, of the greatness of the Being who created the universe; and ask, Could he be so inconsistant with his own character, as to leave man without a law or rule to regulate his conduct, after placing him here, where, according to the formation of his nature he must in a short period sink into the dust? Is there nothing further; is there no existence beyond this vail of death which is so suddenly to be cast over all of us? If there is, why not that Being who had power to place us here, inform us something concerning hereafter? If we had power to place ourselves in this present existence, why not have power to know what shall follow when that dark vail is cast over our bodies? If in this life we receive our all; if when we crumble back to dust we are no more, from what source did we emanate, and what was the purpose in our existence? If this were all, we should be led to query, whether there was really any substance in existence: and we might with propriety say, “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we die!” If this were really so, then why this constant toiling, why this continual warfare, and why this unceasing trouble? But this is not the case, the voice of reason, the language of inspiration, and the Spirit of the living GOD, our Creator, teaches us, as we hold the record of truth in our hands, that this is not the case; that this is not so; for, the heavens declare the glory of a GOD, and the firmament shows his handy work; and a moment’s reflection, is sufficient to teach every man of common intellect, that all these are not the mere production of chance, nor could they be supported by any power less than by an Almighty hand: and he that can mark the power of Omnipotence inscribed upon the heavens, can also see His own hand-writing in the sacred volume; and he who reads it oftenest will like it best, and he who is acquainted with it, will know the hand wherever he can see it; and when once discovered, it will not only receive an acknowledgment, but an obedience to all its heavenly precepts. For a moment reflect, what could have been the purpose in our Father in giving to us a law? Was it that it might be obeyed, or disobeyed? And think [p. 142]