Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 12 February 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Dear sir
I was somewhat disappointed on receiving my paper with only a part of my letter inserted in that it. The letter which I wrote you for publication I wrote by the [p. 27] of God, and I am quite anxious to have it all laid before the public for it is of importance to them, But I have no clame upon you, neither do I wish to urge you beyond that which is reasonable to do it. I have only to appeal to your extended geneorsity to all religious societies that claim that Christ has come in the flesh and also tell you what will be the consequen[c]es of a neglect to publish it— some parts of the letter were very severe upon the wickedness of sectarianism— I acknowledge and the truth, remember is hard and severe against all iniquity and wickedness, but this is no reason why it should not be published but the very reason why it should, It lays the axe at the root of the tree and I long to see many of the sturdy oaks which I have long cumbred the ground fall prostrate. I now say unto you that if you wish to clear your garments from the blood of you[r] readers I exhort you to publish that letter entire but if not the sin be upon your head—
Accept sir the good wishes and tender regard of your unworthy servant—
Joseph Smith Jr
12th Feby. 1833 [p. 28]


  1. 1

    JS subscribed to the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer. (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  

  2. 2

    A recent revelation commanded JS to “testify, and to warn the people.” (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:81].)  

  3. 3

    JS’s 4 January letter suggests that his anxiety and sense of urgency in warning readers of calamities and encouraging them to repent stemmed from the “distruction to the eye of the spiritual beholder” that “seemes to be writen by the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon almost evry thing we behold.” He thus felt emboldened to “step forth into the field” to help others gain eternal salvation. (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  

  4. 4

    See “Our Own Affairs,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 27 Oct. 1832, [3].  

    American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer. Rochester, NY. 1827–1833.

  5. 5

    The unpublished segment of JS’s first letter spoke about apostasy, unbelief, and wickedness that had caused God to “withdraw his holy spirit” from the earth. His letter also stated, however, that with the restoration of the Church of Christ, “the light of the latter day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness.” (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  

  6. 6

    See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 38–39 [1 Nephi 16:2–3].  

  7. 7

    Saxton may have felt justified in omitting these portions of JS’s letter because of Saxton’s nominal commitment to avoid religious controversy. In the September 1832 prospectus for his newly renamed paper, Saxton wrote: “In seeking however, to promote a pacific spirit and the interchange of christian kindness more generally, it is not our intention to temporize in concerns of eternal moment, or in any way to sacrifice the self-denying independent principles of truth to any of those selfish purposes which might be secured in humouring popular prejudice. We hope to pursue that elevated—unwavering course dictated by the word of God, and the pressing demands of a world lying in wickedness.” This message was also printed as the opening column in each subsequent issue. (“American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1].)  

    American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer. Rochester, NY. 1827–1833.

  8. 8

    See Luke 3:9; Matthew 3:10; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 237 [Alma 5:52].  

  9. 9

    The concept of clearing, or cleaning, one’s garments from the blood of others appeared in a recent revelation that partly informed JS’s 4 January 1833 letter and his response here. (See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:84–85]; see also Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 565 [Ether 12:37–38].)  

  10. 10

    See Acts 18:6; Ezekiel 33:4; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 124 [Jacob 1:19].