Letter to William W. Phelps, 11 January 1833

  • Source Note
  • Historical Introduction

Document Transcript

January 11— 1833
I Send you the Olieve leaf which we have plucked from the tree of Paradise, the Lords message of peace to us, for though our Brethren in , indulge in feelings towards us, which is are not according to the requirements of the yet we have the satisfaction of knowing that the Lord approves of us & has accepted us, & established his name in [p. 18] for the salvation of the nations, for the Lord will have a place for from whence his word will go forth in these last days in purity, for if , will not purify herself so as to be approved of in all things in his sight he will seek— another people for his work will go on untill Isreal is & they who will not hear his voice must expect to feel his wrath, Let me say unto you, seek to purefy yourselves, & also all the inhabitants of lest the Lords anger be kindled to fierceness, repent, repent, is the voice of God, to , & yet strange as it may appear, yet it is true mankind will presist in self Justification until all their eniquity is exposed & their character past being redeemed, & that which is treasured up in their hearts be exposed to the gaze of mankind, I say to you— (& what I say to you, I say to all) hear the <​warning.​> voice of God lest fall, & the Lord swore swear in his wrath the inhabiteints of shall not enter into my rest, The Brethren in pray for you unceasingly, for knowing the terrors of the Lord, they greatly fear for you; you will see that the Lord commanded us in to build an , & establish a , this is the word of the Lord to us, & we must— yea the Lord helping us we will obey, as on conditions of our obedience, he has promised <​us​> great things, yea <​even​> a visit from the heavens to honor us with his own presence, we greatly fear before the Lord lest we should fail of this great honor which our master proposes to confer on us, we are seeking for humility & great faith lest we be ashamed in his presence, our hearts are greatly greaved at the spirit which is breathed both in your letter & that of the wery spirit which is wasting the strength of like a pestalence, and if it is not detected & driven from you it will ripen for the threatened Judgments of God, remember God sees the secret springs of human action, & knows the hearts of all living, Br suffer us to speak plainly for God has respect to the feelings of his saints & he will not let them be tantalized with impunity tell that low insinuations God hates, but he rejoices in an honest heart and knows better who is guilty than he does, we send him this worning [warning] voice & let him fear greatly for himself lest a worse thing overtake him, all we can say by way of conclusion is, if the fountain of our tears are not dried up we will <​still​> weep for , this from your brother who trembles greatly for ,— and for the wrath of heaven which awaits her if she repent not,—— PS. I am not in the habit of crying peace, when there is no peace, and knowing the th[r]eatened Judgments of God, I say Wo,— unto them who are at ease [p. 19] in fearfulnes will speedily lay hold of the hypocrite, I did not expect that you had lost , but thought from your letters you had neglected to read them, otherwise you would not have writen as you did, it is in vain to try to hide a bad spirit from the eyes of them who are spiritual for it will shewe itself in speaking & in writing as well as all our other conduct, it is also useless to mak[e] great pretentions when the heart is not right before God, for God looks at the heart, and where the heart is not right the Lord will expose it to the view of his faithful saints, we wish you to render the Star as interesting as possable by setting forth the rise progress and faith of the church, as well as the doctrine for if you do not render it more interesting than at present it will fall, and the church suffer a great Loss thereby——
Joseph Smith Jr [p. 20]


  1. 1

    TEXT: “W. Phelps” was added later in a different handwriting.  

  2. 2

    TEXT: “f” smudged out with a “v” written over it.  

  3. 3

    Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:1–126]; see also Genesis 8:11.  

  4. 4

    The revelation of 22–23 September 1832 declared that “those to whom the kingdom has been given” needed to be “upbraded for there evil hearts of unbelief.” (Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:76].)  

  5. 5

    A November 1831 revelation stated that the “iniquities” of “the rebelious” would be “spoken upon the house tops & their seceret acts shall be revealed.” (Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1:3].)  

  6. 6

    See Psalm 95:8–11; and Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:23–24].  

  7. 7

    See 2 Corinthians 5:11.  

  8. 8

    The December 1832 revelation accompanying this letter mandated the organization of this school. (Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:74–80, 119–123]; see also Revelation, 3 Jan. 1833 [D&C 88:127–137].)  

  9. 9

    See Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:68].  

  10. 10

    “Teased or tormented by the disappointment of the hope of good.” (“Tantalized,” in American Dictionary [1845], 824.)  

    An American Dictionary of the English Language; Exhibiting the Origin, Orthography, Pronunciation, and Definitions of Words. Edited by Noah Webster. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1845.

  11. 11

    See Jeremiah 9:1; and Psalm 137:1. JS used the same expression several days earlier in a letter to Noah C. Saxton, editor of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer. (Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 Jan. 1833.)  

  12. 12

    See Amos 6:1; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 114 [2 Nephi 28:24].  

  13. 13

    John Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery took copies of JS’s revelations to Missouri in January 1832, and JS himself probably brought copies of additional revelations when he visited Missouri in spring 1832. Phelps, Whitmer, and Cowdery had been tasked to “review the Book of Commandments & select for printing such as shall be deemed by them proper, as dictated by the spirit.” (See Whitmer, History, 38; and Minutes, 30 Apr. 1832.)  

  14. 14

    See Acts 8:21.  

  15. 15

    See 1 Samuel 16:7.  

  16. 16

    JS had not previously expressed displeasure with The Evening and the Morning Star, which Phelps began publishing in June 1832. In a later history, JS remembered regarding the first issues of the Star as “a joyous treat to the Saints.” (JS History, vol. A-1, 216.)