Letter to Oliver Granger, between circa 22 and circa 28 July 1840

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  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

Dr Sir
It was with great pleasure I received your’s and Letter dated June 23rd. 1840 and was very happy to be informed of your safe arrival in that place and your probability of success, and I do hope that your anticipations will be realized and that you will be able to free the from all incumbrances, and be prospered in all your undertakings for the benefit of the , and pray that while you are exerting your influence to bring about an object so desireable, that the choicest blessings of heaven may rest down upon you. While you are endeavoring to do so and attending to the duties laid upon you by the Authorities of the Church in this place, I am sorry to be informed not only in your letter but from other respectable sources of the strange conduct pursued in by ; I am indeed Surprised that a man having the experience which has had should take any steps whatever calculated to destroy the confidence of the brethren in the or any of the Authorities of the church. In order to conduct the affairs of the kingdom in righteousness it is all important, that the most perfect harmony kind feeling, good understanding and confidence should exist in the hearts of all the brethren. and that true Charity—love one towards another, should characterize all their proceedings. If there are any uncharitable feelings, any lack of confidence, then pride and arrogancy and envy will soon be manifested and confusion must inevitably prevail and the Authorities of the Church set at nought; and under such circumstances cannot rise and free herself from <​the​> captivity in which she is held and become a place of safety for the saints nor can the blessings of Jehovah rest upon her. If the saints in deem me unworthy of their prayers when they assemble together, and neglect to bear me up at a throne of heavenly grace, it is a strong and convincing proof to me that they have not the spirit of God.
If the revelations we have received are true, who is to lead the people? If the of the kingdom have been committed to my hands, who shall open out the mysteries thereof. As long as my brethren stand by me and encourage me I can combat the predjudices of the world and can bear the contumely and abuse of the world with joy [p. 159] but when my brethren stand aloof— when they begin to faint and endeavour to retard my progress and enterprise then I feel to mourn but am no less determined to prosecute my task, being confident that altho my earthly friends may fail and even turn against me, yet my heavenly father will bear me off triumphant. However I hope that even in , their are some who do not make a man an [“]offender for a word” but are disposed to stand forth in defence of righteousness and truth and attend to every duty enjoined upon them and who will have wisdom to direct them against any movement or influence calculated to bring confusion and disorder into the camp of Israel, and to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
It would be gratifying to my mind to see the in flourish, but think the time has not yet come and I assure you it never will until a different order of things be established and a different spirit be manifested. When confidence is restored, when pride shall fall and every aspiring mind be clothed with humility as with a garment and selfishness give place to benevolence and charity, and a united determination to live by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord is observable, then and not till then can peace and order, and love prevail
It is in consequence of aspiring men that has been forsaken. How frequently has your humble servant been envied in his office by such characters who endeavoured to raise themselves to power at my expense, and seeing it impossible to do so, resorted to foul slander and abuse and other means to effect my overthrow; such characters have ever been the first to cry out against the , and publish their faults and foibles to four winds of heaven.
I cannot forget the treatment I received in the house of my friends, these things continually roll across my mind and cause me much sorrow of heart, and when I think that others who have lately come into the church should be led to instead of to this place by , and having their confidence in the Authorities lessened by such observations as he () has thought propper to make, as well as hearing all the false reports and exaggerated accounts of our enemies, I must say that I feel grieved in spirit, and cannot tolerate such proceedings neither will I, but will endeavour to disabuse the minds of the saints and break down all such unhallowed proceedings. [p. 160]
It was something new to me when I heard there had been secret meetings held in the , and that some of my friends—faithful brethren, men enjoying the confidence of the should be locked out. Such like proceedings are not calculated to promote union or peace but to engender strife and will be a curse instead of a blessing: To those who are young in the work I know they are calculated to and must be injurious to them. Those who have had experience and who should know better, than to reflect on their brethren, there is no excuse for them. If and the other brethren wish to reform the Church and come out and make a stand against sin & speculation &c &c; they must use other weapons than lies, or their object can never be effected, and their labors will be given to the house of the stranger rather than to the house of the Lord
The proceedings of were taken into consideration at a meeting of the Church at this place, when it was unanimously resolved that fellowship should be withdrawn from him until he make satisfaction for the conduct he has pursued of which circumstance I wish you to apprize him of without delay and demand his .
Dr Sir I wish you to stand in your lot and keep the station which was given you by revelation and the authorities of the Church; attend to the affairs of the Church with diligence and then rest assured on the blessings of heaven: It is binding on you to act as of the Church in until you are removed by the same Authority which put you in, and I do hope, their will be no cause for opposition. but that good feelin[g]s will be manifested in future by all the brethren
letter to was duly received for which he has our best thanks, It was indeed an admirable letter and worthy of its author the sentiments express’d were in accordance with the spirit of the gospel and the principles correct. I am glad that has continued with you and hope he has been of some service to you,— give my love to him
Our prospects in this place continue good. considerable numbers have come in this spring.— There were some bickerings respecting your conduct soon after your departure but they have all blown over, and I hope there will never be any occasion for any more, but that you will commend yourself to God and to the saints by a virtuous walk and holy conversation
I had a letter from a few days ago informing me of his desire to come back to the Church if we would accept of him, he appears very humble and is willing to make every satisfaction that Saints or God may require.
We expect to have an edition of the book of Mormon printed by the first of September it has is now being sterotyped in
I rem[ain] &c &c
Joseph Smith Jr [p. 161]


  1. 1

    In July 1837, JS, Sidney Rigdon, Hyrum Smith, Reynolds Cahoon, Jared Carter, and Oliver Cowdery signed a mortgage that assigned the Kirtland House of the Lord to the principals of Mead, Stafford & Co., a mercantile firm in New York. According to the terms of the mortgage, the firm would retain the mortgage as collateral for payments on debts that JS and the others owed the business. If JS and the others paid off three promissory notes—due on 8 July in 1838, 1839, and 1840—the firm would convey title to the House of the Lord back to JS. It is uncertain whether any of the three promissory notes had been paid by the time JS wrote this letter. (Mortgage to Mead, Stafford & Co., 11 July 1837.)  

  2. 2

    Thomas Burdick, who had been appointed as a member of the Kirtland high council in November 1837, also made accusations against Babbit. (Minute Book 1, 7 Nov. 1837; JS History, vol. B-1, 775; Minutes, 5–6 Sept. 1840.)  

  3. 3

    In November 1839, Heber C. Kimball told his wife, Vilate, that he had hoped to find the Saints in Kirtland “united and enjoying the blessings of the people of god.” Instead, they were “all broken up and divided into seve[ra]l different parties.” George A. Smith expressed a similar view, stating that there were “many Elders hear that instead of holding each other up by the prare [prayer] of faith they are pulling each other down.” (Heber C. Kimball, Kirtland, OH, to Vilate Murray Kimball, Commerce, IL, 16 Nov. 1839, photocopy, Heber C. Kimball, Letters, 1839–1854, CHL; George A. Smith to John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, 22 Nov. 1839, John Smith, Papers, CHL.)  

    Kimball, Heber C. Letters, 1839–1854. Photocopy. CHL.

    Smith, John. Papers, 1833–1854. CHL.

  4. 4

    After visiting Kirtland on their way home from England in May 1838, Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde reported to JS that Kirtland appeared “dolefull” and that “the folks here tell many dark and pittifull tales about yourself & others.” (Letter from Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, between 22 and 28 May 1838.)  

  5. 5

    An October 1831 revelation declared that “the keys of the kingdom of God is committed unto man on the Earth.” A March 1832 revelation further explained that JS was “given the keys of the kingdom.” (Revelation, 30 Oct. 1831 [D&C 65:2]; Revelation, between ca. 8 and ca. 24 Mar. 1832.)  

  6. 6

    See Isaiah 29:21; and Book of Mormon, 1837 ed., 120 [2 Nephi 27:32].  

  7. 7

    See 1 John 4:6.  

  8. 8

    In April 1840, Hiram Kellogg reported from Kirtland that “the Lord is reviving his work in this place; there is more or less baptised here every week, we have about 125 members in the society here, and more going to be baptised next Thursday. Many of the old inhabitants of this place, have been standing and looking on until they are convinced that this is the work of the Lord, and are willing to embrace it.” (“Important Church News,” Times and Seasons, May 1840, 1:109.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.

  9. 9

    See 1 Peter 5:5.  

  10. 10

    See Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4; Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:44]; and Revelation, 6 Aug. 1833 [D&C 98:11].  

  11. 11

    In late 1837 and early 1838, Warren Parrish, John F. Boynton, Luke Johnson, Joseph Coe, Martin Harris, and Cyrus Smalling, all of whom were prominent church members, led a group of dissenters who portrayed JS as a fallen prophet. JS and most church members departed from Kirtland in 1838 largely because of these dissenters’ actions and because of the opposition of non-Mormons such as Grandison Newell. (John Smith and Clarissa Lyman Smith, Kirtland, OH, to George A. Smith, Shinnston, VA, 1 Jan. 1838, George Albert Smith, Papers, CHL; Thomas B. Marsh to Wilford Woodruff, in Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 36–38.)  

    Smith, George Albert. Papers, 1834–1877. CHL. MS 1322.

    Elders’ Journal of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Kirtland, OH, Oct.–Nov. 1837; Far West, MO, July–Aug. 1838.

  12. 12

    According to an April 1840 letter from Sidney Rigdon, Babbitt tried to convince members in the eastern United States to move to Kirtland instead of to Nauvoo. Because of Babbitt’s efforts, several members from Philadelphia were about to leave immediately for Kirtland, which made Rigdon concerned that the church would be unable to sell the land it had purchased in Nauvoo. (Letter from Sidney Rigdon, 3 Apr. 1840.)  

  13. 13

    Although Babbitt apparently locked the House of the Lord in the instance mentioned here, other individuals in Kirtland had sought at different times to keep church members loyal to JS out of the building. Heber C. Kimball reported that after he preached a sermon in the House of the Lord in November 1839, John Moreton—who affiliated with Martin Harris and Cyrus Smalling—declared that Kimball “never should preach in the house again.” Kimball told his wife, Vilate, that “as a general thing there Cannot be a meeting without some dispute” in Kirtland. In December 1839, it was reported that the dissident group led by Harris and Joseph Coe “have the hous part of the time.” (Minutes, 5–6 Sept. 1840; Kimball, “History,” 115; Heber C. Kimball, Kirtland, OH, to Vilate Murray Kimball, Commerce, IL, 16 Nov. 1839, photocopy, Heber C. Kimball, Letters, 1839–1854, CHL; “J.E.W.,” Kirtland, OH, to Mary Kendall Dunham, Switzerland Co., IN, 1 Dec. 1839, Jonathan Dunham, Papers, CHL.)  

    Kimball, Heber C. “History of Heber Chase Kimball by His Own Dictation,” ca. 1842–1856. Heber C. Kimball, Papers, 1837–1866. CHL. MS 627, box 2.

    Kimball, Heber C. Letters, 1839–1854. Photocopy. CHL.

    Dunham, Jonathan. Papers, 1825–1846. CHL.

  14. 14

    Minutes of this disciplinary council for Babbitt are not extant. Another hearing of Babbitt’s case occurred before the Nauvoo high council in September 1840. (Minutes, 5–6 Sept. 1840.)  

  15. 15

    See Daniel 12:13.  

  16. 16

    In May 1840, a newspaper reported that Nauvoo’s population had increased greatly because of immigration: “Our informant states that several families arrive every day. A gentleman living on the road from Quincy to Nauvoo assured him that on some days at least 15 families passed his house, all bound to the latter place.” (“Latest from the Mormons,” Salt River Journal [Bowling Green, MO], 16 May 1840, [1].)  

    Salt River Journal. Bowling Green, MO. 1840–1841.

  17. 17

    See 2 Peter 3:11; and Articles and Covenants, ca. Apr. 1830 [D&C 20:69].  

  18. 18

    Letter from William W. Phelps, with Appended Letter from Orson Hyde and John E. Page, 29 June 1840.  

  19. 19

    The July 1840 issue of the Times and Seasons reported that Ebenezer Robinson had “gone to Cincinnati for the express purpose of getting the Book of Mormon stereotyped and printed, and that he has entered into a contract to have it done immediately.” ([Don Carlos Smith], “To the Saints Scattered Abroad,” Times and Seasons, July 1840, 1:144.)  

    Times and Seasons. Commerce/Nauvoo, IL. Nov. 1839–Feb. 1846.