About March 1842, Latter-day Saint , a resident of Recklesstown, New Jersey, wrote to JS expressing sympathy for the difficulties JS had endured and reporting on the state of the in . Appleby first learned of the church in 1838 and was , along with his wife, Sarah Price Appleby, in September 1840. After being an by in October, Appleby began preaching and baptizing in the vicinity of Recklesstown. In May 1841 Appleby visited , Illinois, where he met with JS for the first time. Upon his return, Appleby presided over the of the church in Recklesstown and continued to proselytize in New Jersey and Delaware.
In his letter to JS, reflected on the persecution JS and the church had experienced and offered a prayerful affirmation that he and the church would ultimately prevail. Appleby also recounted the progress of the church in , requested assistance in his efforts to preach to residents in the region, and reported on two families planning to migrate from New Jersey to in April 1842.
The original letter has not been located, but its contents were published in the 2 May 1842 issue of the Times and Seasons. Though the published version does not include a date, external and internal evidence provides some indication of when the letter was written. In his letter mentioned a baptism he had performed “but a few weeks ago” in which he “broke the ice to do it.” This was likely a reference to a baptism that took place during winter 1841–1842 or early spring 1842. Appleby also noted that the Recklesstown branch of the church had 22 members and that the Recklesstown and Cream Ridge area had “something near two hundred members.” Minutes of a 6–10 April 1842 held in note the Recklesstown branch had 26 members and the Cream Ridge and Recklesstown branches had a combined 166 members. This suggests that the letter was written sometime around the early April 1842 conference.
That ’s letter appeared in the 2 May 1842 issue of the semimonthly Times and Seasons suggests that the letter was received in sometime after the contents of the 15 April issue had been finalized. Letters from Saints in the Delaware River Valley usually took about two or three weeks to travel to Nauvoo, so it is likely that Appleby sent his letter sometime in March or possibly in early April. No response is known to exist, but the letter’s publication in the Times and Seasons indicates that JS believed that its contents should be shared with the church.
Dear Brother:—It is with feelings of no ordinary kind, that I take my pen in hand, (aside from the bustle and cares of life) to communicate to you, thou servant and prophet of the most high, the pleasing and no doubt cheering intelligence of what the Lord of glory is doing in this part of the vineyard. When I take a retrospective view of the rise of the “” in these last days, and reflect what scenes of persecutions, trials, distress, and bloodshed, the saints of God have been called upon to undergo, for the testimony of Jesus and his holy word; and especially when I think of you, (the trials you have endured, the tribulations you have waded through, the cold damp prisons you have lain in, the galling chains you have been loaded with, the fetters, and bands of iron that have encompassed your limbs, and all for the sake of eternal truth,) I am ready to exclaim, how long Oh! just, righteous, and eternal Father wilt thou suffer thy prophet and seer, to be persecuted, his life sought after, his name and character villified, traduced, calumniated, falsified and slandered, by wicked and designing men; the emmisaries of Satan, but a soft still sweet voice whispers, “my grace is all sufficient for him;” he is under my protecting care, and no power of hell and earth combined shall ever be able to overcome him if he is faithful. (“They that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”) And I pray my Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus, that you may be kept faithful unto the end, and may the saints by their faith and prayers always hold you up before our heavenly King, that you may never fall, though your path should be continually beset with the “fowler’s snare;” though you should be called upon to undergo more trials, perplexities, griefs, sorrows, disappointments, tribulations and afflictions; and at last seal your testimony with the effusions of your own blood; for the glorious, triumphant and eternal truth that God has made you an instrument in revealing to the children of men. May you never falter, but meet it all with a triumphant smile, obtain the victory over all your enemies; death, hell, and the grave;—fall asleep in the arms of Jesus;—and receive the crown, which thus far you have so nobly and gallantly contended and fought for like a true soldier of the cross, and follower of the Lamb; even when death (with all its appalling forms) stared you in the face, it found you true, and immovable to the glorious—inspiring—heaven born truths that have been revealed to you; and which I your humble servant and brother in the bonds of the am rejoicing in. May Israel’s God protect you, and his church, [p. 777]
The phrase “wicked and designing men,” and similar phrases, appeared in contemporaneous documents, including some authored by Latter-day Saints. (See, for example, JS History, vol. A-1, 1; JS, “History of Joseph Smith,” Times and Seasons, 15 Mar. 1842, 3:726; Miller, Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, 255–256; and Abraham Lincoln, Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, IL, 10 Dec. 1856, in Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, 2:384.)
Miller, William. Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, about the Year 1843; Exhibited in a Course of Lectures. Troy, NY: Kemble and Hooper, 1836.
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Edited by Roy P. Basler, Marion Dolores Pratt, and Lloyd A. Dunlap. 8 vols. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953.