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Letter to “Dearly Beloved Brethren,” 23 November 1833

Letter to “Dearly Beloved Brethren,” 23 November 1833

Kirtland, November 23, 1833.
An epistle from a counsel of high priests of the church  of christ, organized on the 6th of April, A.D. 1830, to their  brethren of the same church, residing at Geneseo, Living ston County, New York:
Dearly beloved brethren,
It is with deep feelings of  <deep> interest for your welfare, that we address ourselves  to you by this Epistle, which we send by the hands  of our worthy brethren, Orson Pratt, and Lyman  Johnson, both personly known to us, whom we rec ommend to your fellowship, as men of good  morals and of firm and unshaken integrity in  the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, to which min istry they have been called and regularly ordained  by the hands of this church, and set apart to this  office after having been received into the same  by baptism according to the Articles and Cove nants thereof. It is just for us, for your sakes, to say,  that our brother Orson Pratt, was one of those who  first embraced this gospel, and was soon set apart  to the work of the ministry, and during an excessive  labor of three <years> has conducted himself with that p[ro ]priety, and has made such advances in the knowl edge of the doctrine of the Kingdom of Christ, that  we recommend him in full confidence as a man  cabable of setting in order the ordinances and requi sitions of the same. Our brother Lyman Johnson has la bored in the ministry more than two years, during which  he has showed himself worthy of the high responsibility,  and is justly entitled to the confidence of all the  saints with whom he has labored, and is fully qual ified to assist our brother Orson Pratt in setting  in order all matters of difficulty that may be  among you.
Dear brethren, we have learned with painful feelings,  that divisions and strifes in a degree have made their  appearance among you, which evidently is the work of  the adversary of our souls, to disaffect your minds  toward the truth, that <and grieve> the Holy Spirit <that it> withdraws, and  leaves you in darkness, to be led captive down to de struction: and with great anxiety of heart we have called  upon our heavenly Father in the name of Jesus for you.*  We need not prove to you by argument, brethren, that where there  <are> contentions, and unbelief in the sacred things communic[ated] [p. [1]]
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In spring 1833, a controversy had developed in the Geneseo, New York, branch surrounding JS’s vision of the three levels of postmortal glory, or what was known at the time as “the Vision” (Revelation, 16 February 1832 [D&C 76]). Ezra Landen, the presiding elder, did not accept the revelation and persuaded other members to support his view.
Although Landen relented in his stance after receiving counsel from Orson Pratt and Lyman Johnson, he had resumed his opposition by September 1833. In November, a council of high priests at Kirtland, Ohio, sent Pratt and Johnson to visit Geneseo again and settle the matter. The letter Pratt and Johnson carried from the council stipulated that doctrinal disharmony and rejection of revelation were grounds for disfellowshipment.
JS sent this letter from Kirtland on behalf of the council, over which he presided. Oliver Cowdery acted as council clerk and transcribed the letter, which was addressed to church members at Geneseo. Cowdery also recorded a partial copy of the epistle in JS Letterbook 1.

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