Letter to the Church, circa April 1834
“Elders” (including JS), Letter, , Geauga Co., OH, to “brethren in Christ, and companions in tribulation,” ca. Apr. 1834. Featured version published in The Evening and the Morning Star, Apr. 1834, p. 152. For more complete source information, see the source note for Letter, 30 Oct. 1833.
This circa April 1834 letter is the continuation of a serialized letter, the first installment of which appeared as “The of the Church in , [Ohio,] to Their Brethren Abroad” in the February 1834 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star. The second installment appeared in the March issue, and the April issue contained this third installment. Internal evidence, such as inaccurate statements about what would be featured in forthcoming segments, implies that although the series was presented as a single letter, the segments were written at different times, with the understanding that they would be printed serially. Each new installment assumed that readers were already familiar with the earlier publications. Additionally, the first segment of the letter stated, “Our communications to you may be frequent,” suggesting that the correspondence was originally conceived as open-ended, with installments to be written periodically.While the theme of all three segments is the need to escape the corruption of the world, the principal content of each installment differs. The February publication is devoted to a discussion of the eternal nature of the laws of God. The March segment continues this subject, but it emphasizes the law of sacrifice as a means of looking toward the atonement of Jesus Christ and closes with a discussion of promised eternal blessings for those who place their faith in Christ. The final installment, reproduced here, describes the danger of apostasy facing the Saints and the tendency of those who reject the faith to become active opponents. The focus on apostasy and false doctrine may have been prompted by the activities of , who was excommunicated from the church in June 1833. After his excommunication, Hurlbut began collecting statements against JS and the church from JS’s former neighbors; these statements included affidavits that the Book of Mormon was based on a novel by Solomon Spalding. Additionally, in December 1833, Hurlbut presented lectures attacking the church. His efforts resulted in growing hostility between the Saints and other , Ohio, residents during the winter of 1833–1834. JS entered a complaint against Hurlbut for threatening his life, and in response, on 9 April 1834, the Geauga County Court of Common Pleas ordered Hurlbut to post a $200 bond to keep the peace and to pay court costs.The author attribution “Elders of the Church in ” likely refers to JS and other church leaders. Though the March segment promised future installments would provide “some instruction upon the regulation of the church” and this third portion of the letter ends with the note “To Be Continued,” no future issue of the paper contained further installments of the letter. No manuscript versions of the three letter segments are extant.
Winchester, B[enjamin]. The Origin of the Spaulding Story, concerning the Manuscript Found; with a Short Biography of Dr. P. Hulbert, the Originator of the Same; and Some Testimony Adduced, Showing It to Be a Sheer Fabrication, So Far as Its Connection with the Book of Mormon Is Concerned. Philadelphia: Brown, Bicking, and Guilbert, 1840.
The Evening and the Morning Star. Independence, MO, June 1832–July 1833; Kirtland, OH, Dec. 1833–Sept. 1834.