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John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1839

with the decrees of Heaven, and detrimental to the peace and welfare of the community.
In a council some three or four years ago, it was agreed that the church should bear the name of “the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
Thus I have given a brief sketch of the church, and now, with a few remarks to the church, I will close.
I have left you, not because I disbelieve the bible, for I believe in God, the Saviour, and religion the same as ever; but when I retrace our track, and view the doings of the church for six years past, I can see nothing that convinces me that God has been our leader; calculation after calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown, and our prophet seemed not to know the event till too late. If he said go up and prosper, still we did not prosper; but have labored and toiled, and waded through trials, difficulties, and temptations, of various kinds, in hope of deliverance. But no deliverance came. The promises failed, and time after time we have been disappointed; and still were commanded, in the most rigid manner, to follow him, which the church did, until many were led into the commission of crime; have been apprehended and broken down by their opponents, and many have been obliged to abandon their country, their families, and all they possessed, and great affliction has been brought upon the whole church. What shall we say to these things? Did not your prophet proclaim in your ears that the day was your own, and you should overcome; when in less than a week you were all made prisoners of war, and you would have been exterminated, had it not been for the exertions and influence of a few dissenters, and the humane and manly spirit of a certain officer?
But where now may you look for deliverance? You may say, in God; but I say, in the exercise of common sense and that sound reason with which God has endowed you; and my advice is to follow that, in preference to those pretended visions and revelations which have served no better purpose than to increase your trouble, and which would bind you, soul and body, under the most intolerable yoke.

To the Reader

TO THE READER.
It is stated in the foregoing narrative that Smith translated the scriptures. The following is a specimen of the manner in which he performed that work. It is the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, but in order to shew the connection, I will commence with the last verse of the twenty-third chapter, viz.: “For I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” Chap. 24. “Then understood his disciples that he should come again on the earth, after that he was glorified and crowned on the right hand of God. And Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came to him for to hear him, saying, Master, shew us concerning the buildings of the temple, as thou hast said, they shall be thrown down and left unto you desolate. And Jesus said unto them, see ye not all these things and do ye not understand; then, verily I say unto [p. 48]
with the decrees of Heaven, and detrimental to the peace and welfare  of the community.198

After an abolitionist lectured in Kirtland, JS clarified the church’s position with regard to ending slavery in a letter published in the April 1836 issue of the LDS Messenger and Advocate. The letter cited biblical passages condoning servitude and enjoining servants to obey their masters; it further warned that abolition of slavery would “lay waste the fair States of the South, and set loose, upon the world a community of people who might peradventure, overrun our country and violate the most sacred principles of human society, chastity,—and virtue.” Two other articles in this issue were devoted to renunciation of abolitionism. (JS, Letter to the editor, LDS Messenger and Advocate, Apr. 1836, 2:289; see also Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling, 327–328.)  


In a council some three or four years ago, it was agreed that the  church should bear the name of “the church of Christ of Latter Day  Saints.”199

See “Church of Christ,” in Glossary.  


Thus I have given a brief sketch of the church, and now, with a few  remarks to the church, I will close.
I have left you, not because I disbelieve the bible, for I believe in God,  the Saviour, and religion the same as ever; but when I retrace our  track, and view the doings of the church for six years past, I can see  nothing that convinces me that God has been our leader; calculation  after calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown,  and our prophet seemed not to know the event till too late. If he said  go up and prosper, still we did not prosper; but have labored and  toiled, and waded through trials, difficulties, and temptations, of various  kinds, in hope of deliverance.200

The following canceled text is found at this point in the manuscript version of Corrill’s history: “until we were finally broken down and measurably destroyed; and that too through the foolishness and miscalculation of the church and leaders.” (Corrill, “Brief History,” manuscript, 89.)  


But no deliverance came. The prom ises failed, and time after time we have been disappointed; and still  were commanded, in the most rigid manner, to follow him, which the  church did, until many were led into the commission of crime; have  been apprehended and broken down by their opponents, and many  have been obliged to abandon their country, their families, and all they  possessed, and great affliction has been brought upon the whole church.  What shall we say to these things? Did not your prophet proclaim  in your ears that the day was your own, and you should overcome;  when in less than a week you were all made prisoners of war, and you  would have been exterminated, had it not been for the exertions and  influence of a few dissenters, and the humane and manly spirit of a  certain officer?201

Corrill earlier recounted negotiations he and other dissenters made on behalf of JS. The “certain officer” is Alexander Doniphan, whose objection derailed the decision of a court-martial to execute JS. (See “History, of the Persecution,” July 1840, 1:130–131.)  


But where now may you look for deliverance? You may say, in  God; but I say, in the exercise of common sense and that sound rea son with which God has endowed you; and my advice is to follow that,  in preference to those pretended visions and revelations which have  served no better purpose than to increase your trouble, and which  would bind you, soul and body, under the most intolerable yoke.202

After “increase your trouble,” Corrill’s manuscript states “and to keep you constantly in hot water.” Instead of “under the most intolerable yoke,” the manuscript ends, “under that bondage which is more to be dreaded than the Roman Yoke or Spanish Inquisition. For my own part, I had rather enjoy liberty in Hell, than suffer bondage in Heaven.” (Corrill, “Brief History,” manuscript, 90.)  


To the Reader

TO THE READER.203

On 21 April 1839, Corrill sent a copy of JS’s revision of Matthew 24 to his publisher, explaining, “I mentioned in my history that Smith had translated the Scriptures I wish you would insert the following in the proper place, not out of disrespect to Smith or his followers but merely to indulge the reader with a small specimen or sample of the new translation.” Although JS’s “new translation” of the Bible was not published in its entirety until 1867, Corrill and other Latter-day Saints of the time had access to JS’s revision of Matthew 24 because it had been printed as a broadside sometime in the 1830s. The broadside, which has no date and no indication of publisher, is believed to have been printed and circulated in Kirtland. Beginning at “It is the twenty-fourth chapter,” Corrill copied the introduction found on the broadside, and apart from minor spelling, capitalization, and punctuation differences, the text of the chapter itself also matches the broadside. (John Corrill, Springfield, IL, to Thomas and [John H.] Watson, St. Louis, MO, 21 Apr. 1839, John Fletcher Darby, Papers, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis; Extract from the New Translation of the Bible [Kirtland, OH]: [ca. 1835 ?]; see also Durham, “History of Joseph Smith’s Revision of the Bible,” 85–96; and Crawley, Descriptive Bibliography, 1:60–61.)  


It is stated in the foregoing narrative that Smith translated the scriptures. The  following is a specimen of the manner in which he performed that work. It is the  twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, but in order to shew the connection, I will com mence with the last verse of the twenty-third chapter, viz.: “For I say unto you, ye  shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, blessed is he that cometh in the name of  the Lord.” Chap. 24. “Then understood his disciples that he should come again on  the earth, after that he was glorified and crowned on the right hand of God. And  Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came to him for to  hear him, saying, Master, shew us concerning the buildings of the temple, as thou  hast said, they shall be thrown down and left unto you desolate. And Jesus said un to them, see ye not all these things and do ye not understand; then, verily I say unto [p. 48]
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John Corrill

17 Sept. 1794–26 Sept. 1842. Surveyor, politician, author. Born at Worcester Co., Massachusetts. Married Margaret Lyndiff, ca. 1830. Lived at Harpersfield, Ashtabula Co., Ohio, 1830. Baptized into LDS church, 10 Jan. 1831, at Kirtland, Geauga Co., Ohio. Ordained...

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, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an Account of Their Doctrine and Discipline; with the Reasons of the Author for Leaving the Church, St. Louis, MO: “Printed for the Author,” 1839; two preliminary leaves, 7–50 pp.; includes typeset signature marks. The copy used for transcription is held at CHL; includes handwritten underscoring, notes, and other marks, as well as archival stamps.
This booklet was printed in octavo format on three sheets cut and folded into seven gatherings. The interior gatherings were made from half sheets folded into four leaves, and the initial and final gatherings were made from quarter sheets folded into two leaves, making a total of twenty-four leaves in the booklet. The text block measures 8½ x 5½ x ⅛ inches (22 x 14 x 0.3 cm). Examination of the copies at CHL and BYU, as well as images of a third copy,1

John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints, microfilm (New Haven, CT: Research Publications, 1967).  


indicate that the booklet was originally side stitched. The binding of the copy at CHL has been altered.2

Needle holes along the center folds suggest that the CHL copy of the booklet was once bound with other similar-size works. The first page of the booklet bears the faded and now faint pencil notation “No 2.” on the upper right corner, a possible indication of the booklet’s arrangement in a collection of tracts. The first page of the booklet also bears a handwritten “20” in ink below the title. A photocopy made in 1971 or earlier shows that the CHL copy was not intact at that time. The copy at CHL is currently sewn through a new set of holes in the center folds. (Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


It appears to have been in church custody since at least the early 1880s.3

A circa 1881–1884 inventory of printed works at the Church Historian’s Office includes Corrill’s booklet. The copy held at CHL bears the extremely faded inscription “Historian’s Office” and includes purple Historian’s Office stamps, which were in use as early as the late nineteenth century. A circa 1971 photocopy shows a “Historian’s Office Library” adhesive label (since removed) on page 2 of the CHL copy. These archival records and marks indicate continuous church custody since the early 1880s. (“Church Works, Periodicals, and Pamphlets, Alphabetically Arranged,” 22, Historian’s Office, Catalogs and Inventories, 1846–1904, CHL; Corrill, Brief History, photocopy, ca. 1971, CHL.)  


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