26024

“Latter Day Saints,” 1844

Lord. While fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enrapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a brilliant light, which eclipsed the sun at noonday. They told me that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to “go not after them,” at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.
On the evening of the 21st September, A. D. 1823, while I was praying unto God and endeavouring to exercise faith in the precious promises of scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the room; indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body. In a moment a personage stood before me surrounded with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already surrounded. This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God, sent to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to commence; that the time was at hand for the gospel in all its fulness to be preached in power, unto all nations, that a people might be prepared for the millennial reign.
I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands of God to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensation.
I was informed also concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came;—a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments, of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me. I was also told where there was deposited some plates, on which was engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having received many visits from the angels of God, unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September, A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the records into my hands.
These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold; each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and [p. 405]
Lord. While fervently engaged in supplication, my mind was taken  away from the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was en rapt in a heavenly vision, and saw two glorious personages, who  exactly resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded  with a brilliant light, which eclipsed the sun at noonday.6

JS identified these two personages as God the Father and Jesus Christ. (JS History, vol. A-1, 3; see also JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 2; JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; and JS, “Church History,” 706–707.  


They told  me that all the religious denominations were believing in incorrect  doctrines, and that none of them was acknowledged of God as his  church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to “go not  after them,”7

See Luke 17:23.  


at the same time receiving a promise that the fulness of  the gospel should at some future time be made known unto me.
On the evening of the 21st September, A. D. 1823, while I was  praying unto God and endeavouring to exercise faith in the precious  promises of scripture, on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a  far purer and more glorious appearance and brightness, burst into the  room; indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with  consuming fire. The appearance produced a shock that affected the  whole body. In a moment a personage stood before me surrounded  with a glory yet greater than that with which I was already sur rounded.8

JS also recounted this experience in JS History, ca. Summer 1832, 3; JS, Journal, 9–11 Nov. 1835; JS History, vol. A-1, 4; and JS, “Church History,” 707. He previously identified the messenger as Moroni. ([JS], Editorial, Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 42–44.)  


This messenger proclaimed himself to be an angel of God,  sent to bring the joyful tidings, that the covenant which God made  with ancient Israel was at hand to be fulfilled; that the preparatory  work for the second coming of the Messiah was speedily to com mence; that the time was at hand for the gospel in all its fulness to  be preached in power, unto all nations, that a people might be prepared  for the millennial reign.
I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the hands  of God to bring about some of his purposes in this glorious dispensa tion.
I was informed also concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of this  country, and shown who they were, and from whence they came;—a  brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws, governments,  of their righteousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being  finally withdrawn from them as a people, was made known unto me.  I was also told where there was deposited some plates, on which  was engraven an abridgment of the records of the ancient prophets  that had existed on this continent. The angel appeared to me three  times the same night and unfolded the same things. After having  received many visits from the angels of God, unfolding the majesty  and glory of the events that should transpire in the last days, on the  morning of the 22d of September, A. D. 1827, the angel of the Lord  delivered the records into my hands.
These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance  of gold; each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and [p. 405]
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In July 1843, JS received a letter from Clyde, Williams & Co. of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, announcing the planned publication of a volume of articles “written expressly for the Work, by distinguished Divines” from various religious denominations in the United States

North American constitutional republic. Constitution ratified, 17 Sept. 1787. Population in 1805 about 6,000,000; in 1830 about 13,000,000; and in 1844 about 20,000,000. Louisiana Purchase, 1803, doubled size of U.S. Consisted of seventeen states at time ...

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. The letter invited JS or “some other competent person” representing the Latter-day Saints to submit an “impartial account of the Rise and Progress, Faith and Practice” of the church.1

Clyde, Williams & Co., Harrisburg, PA, to JS, Nauvoo, IL, ca. 15 July 1843, JS Collection, CHL.  


On behalf of JS, William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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prepared a letter in reply, promising that an article would be “matured and forwarded in season to meet your anticipations.”2

JS per William W. Phelps, Nauvoo, IL, to Clyde, Williams & Co., Harrisburg, PA, 1 Aug. 1843, JS Collection, CHL. Volumes describing various religious denominations were not uncommon in this time period. In addition to John Hayward’s 1836 Religious Creeds and Statistics, Robert Baird published A View of Religion in America in Glasgow in 1842, with a revised edition, titled Religion in America, printed in the United States two years later and reprinted many times thereafter. Other examples are P. Douglas Gorrie, The Churches and Sects of the United States, (New York: Lewis Colby, 1850), and Joseph Belcher, The Religious Denominations in the United States, (Philadelphia: J. E. Potter, 1854). Rupp’s volume is distinctive in that it is a collection of essays written by representatives of the respective denominations.  


The resulting essay, published as “Latter Day Saints,” was a revised version of “Church History,” an overview of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine recently written in response to a similar request and published in the church newspaper.3

See JS, “Church History”. When JS composed “Church History,” he quoted from Orson Pratt’s A[n] Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions.  


Taken as a whole, the revisions highlight JS’s emphasis on revelation, with a new opening paragraph explaining the revelatory foundations of the church and JS’s prophetic calling. The revised essay, composed in September 1843, also expanded on the achievements of the hardworking Latter-day Saints, noting the progress of Nauvoo

Principal gathering place for Saints following expulsion from Missouri. Beginning in 1839, LDS church purchased lands in earlier settlement of Commerce and planned settlement of Commerce City, as well as surrounding areas. Served as church headquarters, 1839...

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, Illinois, during the eighteen months since the publication of “Church History.” Whereas the earlier version noted simply, “We have commenced to build a city called ‘Nauvoo’” and alluded only briefly to the city charter, the Nauvoo Legion, and the Saints’ missionary outreach, “Latter Day Saints” elaborated on these now-implemented plans.4

JS, “Church History,” 709.  


The Nauvoo Legion was growing in numbers, and the University of Nauvoo was to be a place “where all the arts and sciences will grow.” The newly begun temple

JS revelation, dated Jan. 1841, commanded Saints to build temple and hotel (Nauvoo House). Cornerstone laid, 6 Apr. 1841. Saints volunteered labor, money, and other resources for temple construction. Construction directed by committee, which included Reynolds...

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received a descriptive paragraph of its own. While “Church History” emphasized the departure of missionaries to many parts of the world, the updated version announced that “thousands have already gathered with their kindred saints, to this the cornerstone of Zion.”
“Latter Day Saints” was written on behalf of JS and appeared under his name. JS approved of and may have collaborated on the content, but apparently it was William W. Phelps

17 Feb. 1792–7 Mar. 1872. Writer, teacher, printer, newspaper editor, publisher, postmaster, lawyer. Born at Hanover, Morris Co., New Jersey. Son of Enon Phelps and Mehitabel Goldsmith. Moved to Homer, Cortland Co., New York, 1800. Married Sally Waterman,...

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who wrote the additions to “Church History.” Phelps’s handwriting appears in a three-page document containing drafts of passages that correspond to the changes to “Church History,” including both the initial paragraph of the revised text and the new section that precedes the concluding list of beliefs. The verso of the document’s second page reads, “Additions to an article in the Times & Seasons. Sent to Clyde Williams and Co. Publishe[r]s—Harrisburgh—September—1843.”5

William W. Phelps, “Additions to an Article in the Times & Seasons,” Sept. 1843, CHL.  


In early April 1844, JS’s essay was published in the volume He Pasa Ekklesia [The whole church], edited by German-American author and translator Israel Daniel Rupp

10 July 1803–31 May 1878. Bookseller, editor, historian, insurance agent, teacher, translator. Born in East Pennsboro (later in Hampden), Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania. Son of George Rupp and Christina Boeshor. Member of Reformed faith. Moved to Allen, Cumberland...

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.6

The book was published in or shortly after April 1844, the date found in its preface. (Rupp, He Pasa Ekklesia, vi.)  


The text presented herein is a transcription of the published version, with notes indicating textual variations from Phelps’s draft and from “Church History.”
On 5 June 1844, JS wrote to Rupp

10 July 1803–31 May 1878. Bookseller, editor, historian, insurance agent, teacher, translator. Born in East Pennsboro (later in Hampden), Cumberland Co., Pennsylvania. Son of George Rupp and Christina Boeshor. Member of Reformed faith. Moved to Allen, Cumberland...

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acknowledging receipt of a copy of He Pasa Ekklesia: “I feel very thankful for so valueable a treasure. The design, the propriety, the wisdom of letting every sect tell its own story; and the elegant manner in which the work appears, have filled my breast with encomiums upon it, wishing you God’s speed.” He continued, “I shall be pleased to furnish further information, at a proper time, and render you such service as the work, and vast extension of our church may demand for the benefit of truth, virtue, and holiness.” He then assured Rupp that “your work will be suitably noticed in our paper, for your benefit.”7

JS, Nauvoo, IL, to Israel Daniel Rupp, Lancaster City, PA, 5 June 1844, copy, JS Collection, CHL.  


On 26 June, the day before JS was killed, the promised endorsement appeared in the Mormon-owned community newspaper, the Nauvoo Neighbor, noting that “every sect is its own witness” and declaring, “Such a work is actually worth its weight in gold. The author has our blessing for his success.”8

“He Pasa Ekklesia,” Nauvoo Neighbor, 26 June 1844, [2].  


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