Letter to Church Leaders in Geneseo, New York, 23 November 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

, November 23, 1833.
An epistle from a of of the , organized on the 6th of April, A.D. 1830, to their brethren of the same church, residing at , Livingston County, New York:
Dearly beloved brethren,
It is with deep feelings of <​deep​> interest for your welfare, that we address ourselves to you by this Epistle, which we send by the hands of our worthy brethren, , and , both personly known to us, whom we recommend to your fellowship, as men of good morals and of firm and unshaken integrity in the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to which ministry they have been called and regularly by the hands of this church, and set apart to this office after having been received into the same by according to the Articles and Covenants thereof. It is just for us, for your sakes, to say, that our brother , was one of those who first embraced this gospel, and was soon set apart to the work of the ministry, and during an excessive labor of three <​years​> has conducted himself with that p[ro]priety, and has made such advances in the knowledge of the doctrine of the Kingdom of Christ, that we recommend him in full confidence as a man cabable of setting in order the and requisitions of the same. Our brother has labored in the ministry more than two years, during which he has showed himself worthy of the high responsibility, and is justly entitled to the confidence of all the saints with whom he has labored, and is fully qualified to assist our brother in setting in order all matters of difficulty that may be among you.
Dear brethren, we have learned with painful feelings, that divisions and strifes in a degree have made their appearance among you, which evidently is the work of the adversary of our souls, to disaffect your minds toward the truth, that <​and grieve​> the Holy Spirit <​that it​> withdraws, and leaves you in darkness, to be led captive down to destruction: and with great anxiety of heart we have called upon our heavenly Father in the name of Jesus for you.* We need not prove to you by argument, brethren, that where there <​are​> contentions, and unbelief in the sacred things communic[ated] [p. [1]] to the saints by revelation, that discord, hardness, jealousies, and numberless evils will inevitably insue. When we reflect upon the holiness and perfections of our great Master, who has opened a way whereby we may come unto him, even by the sacrifice of himself, our hearts melt within us for <​his​> condescension. And when we reflect also, that he has called us to be perfect in all things, that we may be prepared to meet him in peace when he comes in his glory with all the holy angels, we feel to exhort our brethren with boldness, to be humble and prayerful, to walk indeed as children of the light and of the day, that they may have grace to withstand every temptation, and to overcome every evil in the worthy name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For be assured brethren, that the day is truly near when the Master of the house will rise up and shut the door, and none but such as have on a wedding garment will be permitted to enjoy a se[a]t at the marriage supper!
Therefore, dear brethren, we have sent our brethren aforementioned to you, hoping you will receive them in our name, and in the name of the in , and receive their teachings and instructions as from us, for they have been set apart to this work, to act in this author[i]ty, and have received the prayers of this , and this church.
We conclude this short letter by earnestly desiring an interest in your prayers, and commending you to the mercy and favor of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We subscribe ourselves your brethren in the bonds of the ,
Joseph Smith Jr Moderator of co[u]ncil
, Clerk [p. [2]]
* <​We have been informed that when​> These two brethren visited you previously, having authority from us to teach you the doctrine of this , and [to] expound the revelations to your understandings, <​that they​> learned that brother did not believe <​all of​> the Vision given to us of revelations which had been delivered to this chuch by inspiration by the appointment of heaven. Our brother while reading the Vision to a certain brother, while in ’s house, was threatened of being turned out of at the door except he should desist. They then called a of the to labor with who, when on the point of being cut off from the church said that he believed the Vision and would teach it to the church. On the return of said brethren from the east this fall, they learned that did not teach, neither believe the Vision. We have also learned from other brethren that he does not walk worthy of his high calling before the Lord, and without speedy repentance and deep humility will have his office and also membership in this church taken from him.
We want you to understand, dear brethren, that the conduct of our has greatly grieved us, and this church. We want you to understand, that we hold no communion, nor have no fellowship for those who do not believe the book of Mormon, and the revelations which God has given to us in these last days. We are informed that our endeavors to excuse himself for not believing the Vision, saying, that it is not a revelation, but a Vision. We want you to understand from us, that we pronounce such t◊◊◊ings the works of the devil, and are calculated to ensnare the souls of the saints. We plainly declare, and as men that expect to, and must be judged by the searcher of all hearts, that those who do not believe and <​all​> the revelations and vision given to this church, by that they do not believe the book of Mormon, and consequently have no fellowship with us. We write plain, for we are bound so to do, and we write in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and we hope that what we write may be heeded, for we write in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, by virtue of our calling in his church. [p. [3]]


  1. 1

    No minutes of this council are extant. Though this letter identifies JS and Oliver Cowdery as, respectively, the moderator and clerk of this council, who else composed this council is unknown.  

  2. 2

    Pratt and Johnson left Kirtland on 27 November 1833 after a council of high priests assigned them to travel east and “visit the churches.” (Pratt, Diary, 27 Nov. 1833.)  

    Pratt, Orson. Journal, 1833–1837. Orson Pratt, Autobiography and Journals, 1833–1847. CHL. MS 587, fds. 2–4.

  3. 3

    Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20].  

  4. 4

    TEXT: “p[page torn]priety”.  

  5. 5

    See Revelation, 4 Nov. 1830 [D&C 34].  

  6. 6

    See Ephesians 4:30.  

  7. 7

    This asterisk directed the letter’s recipients to a lengthy addendum that follows the signatures in this letter. In the addendum, JS describes the disaffection of church members in Geneseo. The first half of this letter, from the beginning to this point, was copied into JS Letterbook 1, pp. 76–77.  

  8. 8

    TEXT: “communic[page torn]”.  

  9. 9

    See Matthew 22:11; 25:10.  

  10. 10

    An explanatory addendum begins here. This addendum is keyed to an asterisk that appears near the bottom of the first page of the letter.  

  11. 11

    TEXT: Most of this word is missing because of a tear in the paper. The supplied text is based on two partially visible characters.  

  12. 12

    Vision, 16 Feb. 1832 [D&C 76].  

  13. 13

    A similar punishment was administered in July 1833 to a priesthood leader in the Church of Christ branch in Eugene, Indiana. (Letter to John Smith, 2 July 1833.)  

  14. 14

    Rejecting the Book of Mormon and the revelations was viewed as repudiating JS’s claim that the texts had divine origins and that he was the prophet who brought them forth. The Articles and Covenants of the Church of Christ, in dividing individuals into two categories based on how they reacted to the Book of Mormon—those who received it “either to faith and righteousness, or to the hardness of heart in unbelief to their own condemnation”—demonstrated the incongruence of “fellowship” between those who believed the book and those who did not. (Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:14–16].)  

  15. 15

    See 1 Chronicles 28:9; and Romans 8:27.