Letter to the Church in Colesville, 2 December 1830

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

[New York] Decr. 2nd. 1830
Dearly beloved in the Lord
According to your prayers, the Lord hath called, chosen, , sanctified and sent unto you, another servant and separated unto his gospel through Jesus Christ his our Redeemer, to whom be all honor & praise henceforth and forever— even our beloved brother , the bearer of these lines. Whom I recommend unto you as a faithful Servant [p. 196] in the Lord, through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Amen.
To the in
Having many things to write to you, but being assured that ye are not ignorant of all that I can write to you, finally I would inform you that is prospering here, there are many serious inquirers in this place, who are seeking the Lord. It gave us much joy to hear from you, to hear that God is softening the hearts of the children of men [p. 197] in that place, it being the seat of Satan. But blessed be the name of God, it also hath become the abode of our savior, and may you all be faithful and wait for the time of our Lord, for his appearing is night at hand. But the time, and the season, Brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for ye yourselves perfectly know that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night: for when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh [p. 198] upon them, as travail upon a woman, but they shall not escape. But ye, brethren are not in darkness, therefore let us not sleep as do others, but let us watch and be sober, for they that sleep, sleep in the night, and they that be drunken are drunken in the night, but let us who be of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and law, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us unto wrath; but to obtain [p. 199] [sa]lvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore comfort one another, even as ye also do; for perilous times are at hand, for behold the dethronement and deposition of the kings in the eastern continent,— the whirlwinds in the West India Islands, it has destroyed a number of vessels, uprooted buildings and strewed them in the air; the fields of spices have been destroyed, and the inhabitants have barely escaped with their lives, [p. 200] and many have been buried under the ruins. In Columbia, South America, they are at war and peace is taken from the earth in part. and it will soon be in whole, yea destructions are at our doors, and they soon will be in the houses of the wicked, and they that know not God. Yea lift up your heads and rejoice for your redemption draweth nigh. We are the most favored people that ever have been from the foundation of the world, if we remain faith [p. 201]ful in keeping the of our God. Yea, even Enoch, the seventh from Adam beheld our day and rejoiced, and the prophets from that day forth have prophecied of the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and rejoiced at the day of rest of the Saints, Yea, and the Apostle of our Savior also did rejoice in his appear in a cloud with the host of Heaven, to dwell with man on the earth a thousand years. Therefore we have reason to [p. 202] rejoice. Behold the prophecies of the Book of Mormon are fulfilling as fast as time can bring it about. The Spirit of the Living God is upon me therefore who will say that I shall not prophecy. The time is soon at hand that we shall have to flee whithersoever the Lord will, for safety, Fear not those who are making you an offender for a word but be faithful in witnessing unto a crooked and a perverse generation, that thy the day of the coming of our Lord and Savior [p. 203] is at hand. Yea, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make strait his path. Who will shrink because of offences, for offences must come, but woe to them by whom they come, for the rock must fall on them and grind them to powder, for the fulness of the is come in, and woe will be unto them if they do not repent and be in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the remission of their sins, and come in at the strait gate [p. 204] and be numbered with the House of Israel, for God will not always be mocked, and not pour out his wrath upon those that blaspheme his holy name, for the sword, famines and destruction will soon overtake them in their wild career, for God will avenge, and pour out his phials of wrath, and save his elect. And all those who will obey his are his elect, and he will soon gather them from the four winds of heaven, from [p. 205] one quarter of the earth to the other, to a place whithersoever he will, therefore in your patience possess ye your souls. Amen.
Joseph Smith Junr.
, beware of the Freemasons, heard that you were in and he got out a warrant and went to your ’s to distress the family but overheard their talk and they said that they cared not [p. 206] for the debt, if they only could obtain your body. They were there with carriages. Therefore beware of the Freemasons, This from yours &c.
Geauga Co. Ohio
Novr. 12th. 1830
Our beloved brethren
We arrived at this place two weeks this day, On our journey we called at the Buffalo tribe, but stayed a few hours only but left two books with them. We then traveled [p. 207]
directly to this place. On the fourth after attending <​a public​> meeting we came to the place where we had prophesied tarrying a few days. It is where several families had united themselves as a band of brethren and put all their property together determining to live separate from the world as much as possible, and when we had returned we held a meeting with these brethren, and seventeen went immediately forward and were , be [p. 208]
tween eleven and twelve at night, and on the 6[th] there was one more; on the 7th. nine in the day time and at night nineteen; on the 8[th] three; on the 9[th]., 3. on the 10[th] at night, one; on the 11[th], one, on this day another, making in the whole fifty five, among whom are brother and wife. There is considerable call here for books, and I wish you would send five hundred immediately here, and when they are, <​or​> a part of them are [p. 209]
sold, one of these will fetch the money, and if our brother does not come before that time, I think he will then. Be that sooner or later, receive him (as) if from my own bosom, for he is as I am. I wish you without fail to communicate this to my aged parents. Do brethren if you respect me. We expect in a few days to pursue our journey to the .
This is a copy of the letter. [p. 210] If any of you should write to the brethren you should direct yours to Geauga Co. Ohio.
Yours with esteem
. [p. 211]


  1. 1

    See Romans 1:1.  

  2. 2

    Pratt was confirmed a member of the church and ordained an elder on 1 December 1830 and departed on a mission for Colesville on or soon after 2 December. (“History of Orson Pratt,” 10, Historian’s Office, Histories of the Twelve, ca. 1858–1880, CHL; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, 4 Nov. 1830 [D&C 34].)  

    Historian’s Office. Histories of the Twelve, 1856–1858, 1861. CHL. CR 100 93.

  3. 3

    JS’s use of the term Zion here suggests that he did not yet see Zion as synonymous with the city of New Jerusalem, which was to be built; JS had just dispatched Oliver Cowdery and others to “rear up a pillar as a witness where the Temple of God shall be built, in the glorious New-Jerusalem.” While the two terms would eventually come to be used almost interchangeably, this letter demonstrates that in early December 1830 JS was using Zion to refer more generally to the work of spreading the gospel and building up the church. (Covenant of Oliver Cowdery and Others, 17 Oct. 1830.)  

  4. 4

    The phrase “Satan’s seat” is used in the book of Revelation. JS may have used the phrase to describe Colesville because throughout the summer of 1830 members and believers were persecuted there. (Revelation 2:13; see also Historical Introduction to Revelation, July 1830–A [D&C 24]; and Letter to Newel Knight and the Church in Colesville, 28 Aug. 1830.)  

  5. 5

    See 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11.  

  6. 6

    See 2 Timothy 3:1.  

  7. 7

    New York newspapers reported that several European states experienced revolutions in 1830–1831. One newspaper reflected the fears of political instability when reporting on these events: “It will be seen that the storm of war is gathering with fearful blackness in Europe. Great events are almost hourly transpiring. Revolution succeeds revolution more rapidly than we can publish the accounts. It seems as though the whole frame of society, law, government, every thing was speedily to be revolved into its original elements. All is chaos and terror.” (“Still Later and Important,” Commercial Advertiser (New York City), 1 Nov. 1830, [2]; see also “Still Later and Important,” New-York Spectator, [3] Nov. 1830; and “Important Foreign News,” Rochester [NY] Republican, 9 Nov. 1830, [2].)  

    Commercial Advertiser. New York City. 1820–1863.

    New-York Spectator. New York City. 1804–1867.

    Rochester Republican. Rochester, NY. 1829–1838.

  8. 8

    In August 1830, Kingston, Jamaica, suffered a “tremendous hurricane” that caused “great injury” to ships and buildings and ruined the coffee and pimento crops. (“Hurricane,” Rochester [NY] Republican, 28 Sept. 1830, [1]; “Hurricane in the West Indies,” New-York Spectator, 23 Oct. 1830, 4.)  

    Rochester Republican. Rochester, NY. 1829–1838.

    New-York Spectator. New York City. 1804–1867.

  9. 9

    Late in 1830, Colombia was reportedly “sunk in the horrors of civil war” and in “a state of anarchy.” (“Colombia,” Rochester [NY] Republican, 9 Nov. 1830, [2]; see also “Colombia,” Rochester [NY] Republican, 5 Oct. 1830, [1].)  

    Rochester Republican. Rochester, NY. 1829–1838.

  10. 10

    See Revelation 6:4.  

  11. 11

    See Luke 21:28. The same affirmation appeared in a revelation dictated a few days later. (Revelation, 7 Dec. 1830 [D&C 35:26].)  

  12. 12

    See Jude 1:14. At the time this letter was composed JS was in the midst of dictating an expanded account of the biblical Enoch. Shortly after writing this letter, JS dictated a lengthy prophecy of Enoch, a portion of which dealt with the “last days” and the second coming of Christ. (See Old Testament Revision 1, p. 19 [Moses 7:65].)  

  13. 13

    TEXT: Possibly “appeard ” or “appears ”.  

  14. 14

    A revelation four weeks later, on 30 December 1830, directed members to leave their New York homes and “assemble together” in Ohio. (Revelation, 30 Dec. 1830 [D&C 37:3].)  

  15. 15

    See Isaiah 29:21; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 112 [2 Nephi 27:32].  

  16. 16

    See, for example, Deuteronomy 32:5; Philippians 2:15; and Revelation, 4 Nov. 1830 [D&C 34:6].  

  17. 17

    See Zephaniah 1:7; Joel 1:15; and Isaiah 13:6.  

  18. 18

    In both the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, this phrase is attributed to John the Baptist. (Luke 3:4; Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 22 [1 Nephi 10:7–10].)  

  19. 19

    See Luke 17:1.  

  20. 20

    See Romans 11:25.  

  21. 21

    The idea that repentant Gentiles would be adopted into the house of Israel is emphasized in the Book of Mormon. (See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 32, 85, 488, 499, 513–514 [1 Nephi 14:1–2; 2 Nephi 10:18; 3 Nephi 16:13; 21:6; 30:2].)  

  22. 22

    A contemporary spelling of “vial.” (“Phial” and “Vial,” in American Dictionary.)  

    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.

  23. 23

    A September 1830 revelation defined the elect as those who “hear my voice & harden not their hearts.” The gathering of the elect was also mentioned in an October 1830 revelation. (Revelation, Sept. 1830–A [D&C 29:7]; Revelation, Oct. 1830–B [D&C 33:6].)  

  24. 24

    The final lines of this paragraph incorporate a number of biblical phrases and ideas. (See Galatians 6:7; Psalm 74:10, 18; Revelation 16:1; and Luke 21:19.)  

  25. 25

    Hyrum Smith belonged to Palmyra’s Mount Moriah Lodge No. 112. When he left for Colesville, he owed a small debt to Alexander McIntyre, the Smiths’ family doctor. Lucy Mack Smith paid the debt in corn and beans but was subsequently visited by several men seeking payment. Not believing her that the debt had already been paid, they were about to take stored corn when William Smith arrived and forced them to leave. (Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minute Book, 30 Dec. 1841; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, bk. 4, [3]–[4]; Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1845, 181–184.)  

    Nauvoo Masonic Lodge Minute Book. / “Record of Na[u]voo Lodge Under Dispensation,” 1842–1846. CHL. MS 3436

  26. 26

    For the annotated version of this letter, see Letter from Oliver Cowdery, 12 Nov. 1830.  

  27. 27

    This identifies Hyrum Smith as the recipient.