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Letter from William W. Phelps, 15 December 1833

Clay County, Dec. 15, 1833.
Dear Brethren:
It has been some time since I have dropt you a line, and in  the midst of solitude, I write. I need not give you new details of our per secutions—for, as all true christians, that have gone before us, from Abel  down to the beginners of re-establishing Zion now, have invariably suffer ed all manner of affliction, from common scourging even unto death:—it  would not alter the decrees of God, nor lessen the necessary chastisement  of them that are chosen from the foundation of the world, but who have to  be tried as gold seven times purified before they are found faithful and true  for that kingdom, where the sons of God only are made equal with Jesus  Chrift [Christ] having overcome, by righteousness.
The situation of the saints, as scatered, is dubious, and affords a gloomy  prospect. No regular order can be enforced; nor any usual discipline kept  up—among the world; yea, the most wicked part of it, some commit one  sin, and some another, (I speak of the rebellious, for there are saints that  are as immovable as the everlasting Hills,) and what can be done? we are  in Clay, Ray Lafayette, Jackson Van Buren, &c. and cannot hear from  each other oftener then we do from you: I know it was right that we  should be driven out of the land of Zion, that the rebellious might be sent  away. But brethren, if the Lord will, I should like to know what the hon est in heart shall do? Our cloths are worn out—we want the necessaries  of life, and shall we lease, buy, or otherwise obtain land where we are, to  till that we may raise enough to eat? Such is the common language of the  honest, for they want to do the will of God. I am sensible that we shall  not be able to live again in Zion, till God, or the president rules out the  mob.
The Governor is willing to restore us, but as the constitution gives him  no power to guard us, when back, we are not willing to go. The mob  sware, if we come we shall die! If, from what has been done in Zion,  we, or the most of us, have got to be persecuted from city to city, and from  synagogue to synagogue, we want to know it; for there are those among us  that would rather earn eternal life on such conditions, than lose it: But  we hope for better things; and shall wait patiently for the word of the Lord.  Isaiah says in the tenth chapter and 24 and 25 verses, something on the sub ject of Zion; and there is something also in the forth and twelfth chapters,  whether we live to enjoy the sayings or not.
I do not write this letter to entertain you with news, or for to wake you  up to our dreadful condition, but that you may timely give us some advice  what is best to do in our tarry till Zion is redeemed! Some times I think I  will go right to work upon a small piece of land and obtain what I want for  my growing family: then again I feel like writing the Horrid History of  the mob against the “mormons”—preambuling it with the Martyrs that  have been nailed to the cross, burned alive, thrown to wild beasts and de vowered, fryed in pans, broiled on Grid Irons, or beheaded for the sake of  their religion and faith in Jesus Christ. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for  theirs is the kingdom of heaven, &c. If this world embraced much of  Eternity, I should soon be sick of it—but for all our sorrow we shall have  joy!
Our people fair very well, and when they are discreet little or no perse cution is felt. The militia in the upper counties is in readiness at a mo ment’s warning, having been ordered out by the Governor, te [to] guard a court  martial, and court of Enquiry, &c. but we can not attend a court of Enqui ry, on account of the expense, till we are restored and protected!
Till the Lord delivers,
Or brings us together, I am,
Written a month after church members’ expulsion from Jackson County, Missouri, this letter from William W. Phelps to Ohio church leaders conveyed the dreadful circumstances in which Missouri members found themselves. As winter approached, they were anxious to know the will of the Lord regarding their situation.
This letter was published in the January 1834 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star. The periodical had resumed publication in Kirtland, Ohio, after the press’s destruction in Independence, Missouri, in July 1833.

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