Letter to Edward Partridge, 2 May 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Ohio May 2d 1833
Beloved ,
I commence answering your letter & sincere request to me, by begging your pardon for not having addressed you, more particularly in letters which I have written to , for I have always felt, as though a letter written to any one in authority in Zion, would be the property of all, & it mattered but little to whom it was directed. But I am satisfied that this is an error, for instruction that is given pointedly, and expressly to us, designating our names as individuals, seems to have double power and influence over our minds, I am thankful to the Lord for the testimony of his spirit, which he has given me, concerning your honesty, and sincerity before him, and the Lord loveth you, and also , for he chasteneth whom he loveth, and scourgeth every son & daughter whom he receiveth, and he, will not suffer you to be confounded, and of this thing you may rest assured, notwithstanding, all the threatning of the enemy, and your perils among false brethren, For verily I say unto you, that this is my prayer, and I verily believe the prayer of all the saints in , recorded in heaven, in these words, Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ thy son, preserve , the of thy , and give him wisdom, knowledge & power, & the holy ghost, that he may impart to thy saints in . their , & to every man his portion of meat in due season, and now, this is our confidence & record on high, therefore fear not little flock, for it has been your fathers good will to giv[e] you the king[dom],. and now, I will proceed to tell you my views, concerning , property, and giving inheritances &c. The law of the Lord, binds you to receive, whatsoever property is consecrated, by deed, The consecrated property, is considered the residue kept for the Lords , and it is given for this consideration, for to purchase inheritaces for the poor, this, any man has a right to do, agreeable to all laws of our country, to donate, give or consecrate all that he feels disposed to give, and it is your duty, to see that whatsoever is given, is given legally, therefore, it must be given for the consideration of the poor saints, and in this way no man can take any advantage of you in law, Again, concerning inheritances, you are bound by the law of the Lord, to give a deed, secureing to him who receives inheritances, his inheritance, for an everlasting inheritance, or in other words, to be his individual prope[r]ty, his privat , and if he is found a transgressor & should be cut off, out of the church, his inheritance is his still and he is dilivere[d] over to the buffetings of , till the day of redemption, But the property which he consecrated to the poor, for their benefit, & inheritance, & stewardship, he cannot obtain again by the law of the Lord, Thus you see the propriety of this law, that rich men cannot have power to disinherit the poor by obtaining again that which they have consecrated, which is the residue, signified in the law, that you will find in the second paragraph of the extract from the law, in the second number, And now , be assured that we all feel thankful, that the brethren in are beginning to humble themselves, & trying to keep the of the Lord, which is our prayer to God, you may all be able to do, and now, may the grace of God be with all, amen.
Joseph Smith Jun
The above is a true copy of a letter, directed & sent, & subscribed agreeable thereto [p. [1]]


  1. 1

    Partridge may have complained to JS that letters containing important administrative counsel had not been addressed to him. JS repeated his displeasure the following month to Missouri church leaders that “some of our letters of a public nature which we sent for the good of Zion have been kept back from the Bishop, this is conduct which we highly disapprobate.” (Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 25 June 1833, underlining in original.)  

  2. 2

    Several months earlier, JS expressed a similar reliance on revelation in determining a colleague’s character when he wrote to William W. Phelps, “In the love of God having the most implicit confidence in you as a man of God having obtained this confidence by a vision of heavn therefore I will procede to unfold to you some of the feelings of my heart.” Though on a number of occasions during the previous two years Edward Partridge had been corrected and chastened by revelation, his honesty and integrity were never questioned. Indeed, the February 1831 revelation calling him to be bishop likened him “unto Nathaniel of old in whome there is no guile.” (Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832; Revelation, 9 May 1831 [D&C 50:39]; Revelation, 1 Aug. 1831 [D&C 58:14–15]; Revelation, 11 Sept. 1831 [D&C 64:17]; Revelation, 4 Feb. 1831 [D&C 41:11].)  

  3. 3

    See Hebrews 12:6; Revelation 3:19; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 447–448 [Helaman 15:3].  

  4. 4

    One of the definitions for confounded in Webster’s 1828 dictionary is “put to shame and silence.” (“Confounded,” in American Dictionary; see also Psalm 22:5; 1 Peter 2:6; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 76 [2 Nephi 7:7].)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. the Origin, Affinities and Primary Signification of English Words, as far as They Have Been Ascertained. . . . Edited by Noah Webster. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

  5. 5

    See 2 Corinthians 11:26.  

  6. 6

    See Luke 12:42.  

  7. 7

    TEXT: With the exception of the supplied character in “b[r]other” at the end of this paragraph, all bracketed insertions in this document supply characters missing because of holes in the paper.  

  8. 8

    See Luke 12:32  

  9. 9

    See Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:1–72]; and Revelation, 23 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:74–93]. The earliest version of the “law of the Lord” included this directive: “Behold thou shalt consecrate all thy properties that which thou hast unto me with a covenant & a deed which cannot be Broken.” (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831, in Revelation Book 1, p. 64 [D&C 42:30]; for later instructions regarding consecration, see Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51]; Revelation, 15 June 1831 [D&C 56]; Revelation, 12 Nov. 1831 [D&C 70]; Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–A [D&C 73:3–8]; Revelation, 4 Dec. 1831–B [D&C 72:9–23]; Revelation, 1 Mar. 1832 [D&C 78:3–12]; Revelation, 26 Apr. 1832 [D&C 82:11–24]; Letter to William W. Phelps, 27 Nov. 1832; and Revelation, 23 Apr. 1834, in Revelation Book 1, pp. 192–198 [D&C 104]; see also Parkin, “Joseph Smith and the United Firm,” 5–66.)  

  10. 10

    After property was initially consecrated, the bishop was to “appoint every man a Steward over his own property or that which he hath received in as much as shall be sufficient for him self and family & the residue shall be kept to administer to him that hath not that every man may receive according as he stands in need & the residue shall be kept in my store house to administer to the poor and needy.” Given the vague instructions that appear in previous revelations, it is unclear if JS considered the stewardship as private or church property before this letter. The 9 February 1831 revelation, for instance, stated that the bishop “shall appoint every man a Steward over his own property.” The same revelation declared, “It shall come to pass that he that sinneth & rep[e]nteth not shall be cast out & shall not receive again that which he hath consecrated unto me.” Regarding consecrated property, the 20 May 1831 revelation specifically told Partridge that the steward was to “hold it of the Church.” Such ambiguous phrases in the revelations—such as “his own property,” “not receive again,” and “hold it of the Church”—might also explain why Partridge initially considered the inheritances to be property of the church. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831 [D&C 42:32–34, 37]; Revelation, 20 May 1831 [D&C 51:4].)  

  11. 11

    A week before JS wrote this letter, news of a court case in which an individual sued Partridge over consecrated property was published in the northeastern Ohio area. (“Mormonism,” Painesville [OH] Telegraph, 26 Apr. 1833, [3]; see also “The Elders Stationed in Zion to the Churches Abroad,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1833, 110; and “Still Later from Mount Zion,” Cincinnati Journal, 22 Mar. 1833, 46.)  

    Painesville Telegraph. Painesville, OH. 1822–1986.

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

    Cincinnati Journal. Cincinnati, OH. 1833–1836.

  12. 12

    For other uses of the phrase “delivered over to the buffetings of satan until the day of redemption,” see Revelation, 1 Mar. 1832 [D&C 78:12]; and Minutes, 22–23 Jan. 1833.  

  13. 13

    This refers to part of a 9 February 1831 revelation published as “Extract from the Laws for the Government of the Church of Christ” in the second issue of The Evening and the Morning Star in July 1832. The consecration of property is actually discussed in the third paragraph. (Revelation, 9 Feb. 1831, in “Extract from the Laws for the Government of the Church of Christ,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [1] [D&C 42:29–41].)  

    The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.

  14. 14

    In previous months, there had been significant misunderstandings between church leaders in Missouri and those in Ohio. (See Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 Jan. 1833; and Letter to Church Leaders in Jackson Co., MO, 21 Apr. 1833.)