2478323

Letter to Noah C. Saxton, 4 January 1833

the Apostolic platform, and who can look at this, and not exclaim in the language of Isaiah, “the earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the Laws; changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant”18

Isaiah 24:5.  


The plain fact is this, the power of God begins to fall upon the Nations, and the light of the latter day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness19

A March 1831 revelation stated that “when the times of the gentiles is come in a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness & it shall be the fulness of my Gospel.” It also explained that the Lord had “sent mine everlasting covenant unto the World to be a light to the world” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:9, 28]; see also Isaiah 58:8.)  


and their iniquity rools rolls up into view and the Nations of the Gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
are like the waves of the sea casting up mire and dirt20

See Isaiah 57:20.  


or all in commotion21

Earlier revelations stated that one of the signs of the times of Christ’s coming is that “the whole Earth shall be in commotion.” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:26]; see also Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:91].)  


and they hastily are preparing to act the part allotted them when the Lord rebukes the nations,22

See Micah 4:3; and Isaiah 2:4; 17:13. The July 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star used this same phrase when describing tumult among the nations of the earth: “All the Kingdoms of the East seem to be preparing to act the part allotted to them, when the Lord rebukes the nations.” (“Foreign News,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6].)  


when he shall rule them with a rod of iron & break them in peaces like a potters vessel,23

See Revelation 2:26–27; and Psalm 2:9.  


The Lord has declared to his servants some Eighteen months since that he was then withdrawing his spirit from the earth,24

Likely a reference to the declaration in a 30 August 1831 revelation that “I the Lord am angry with the wicked I am holding my spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.” (Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:32].)  


and we can see that such is the fact for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or but very few,25

The same issue of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer that published JS’s letter contained a report from the Cumberland Conference in Maine. Several churches there maintained that they had experienced little growth in 1832. One stated, “No admissions to this church the past year”; another declared, “This church has increased but little in number the last year.” Still another said, “Religion is low.” (“Cumberland Conference, Maine,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2].)  


and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion & division,26

This statement probably reflected not only the ongoing difficulties between South Carolina and the federal government but also problems outside the United States. The July 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star reported that “the wars and rumors of wars, with many other signs of the distress of nations, from the old world, (as it is called across the Ocean) whispers so loud to the understanding, that he that runs may read the label on the Eastern sky: The end is nigh.” At this time, Russia and Persia were continuing a series of wars that began in the 1820s, while Greece was waging a war for independence against the Ottoman Empire. Belgium had only recently concluded its own battle for independence with the Netherlands. (Historical Introduction to Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87]; “Foreign News,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6]; Bitis, “1828–1829 Russo-Turkish War,” 506–525; Pappas, United States and the Greek War for Independence, 1–13, 117–126; Rooney, Revolt in the Netherlands, 175–184.)  


and distruction to the eye of the spiritual beholder seemes to be writen by the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon almost evry thing we behold——
And now what remains to be done under circumstances like these, I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people high and Low, rich and poor, male and female, ministers & people professors of religeon, and nonproffessors in order that they may enjoy the holy spirit of God to a fulness, and escape the Judgments of God which are almost ready to burst upon the nations of the earth— Repent of all your sins and be baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
in water for the remission of them, in the name of the father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance

A religious rite. JS taught that ordinances were covenants between man and God, in which believers could affirm faith, gain spiritual knowledge, and seek blessings. Some ordinances were considered requisite for salvation. The manner in which ordinances were...

View Glossary
of the laying on of the hands

A practice in which individuals place their hands upon a person to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordain to an office or calling, or confer other power, authority, or blessings, often as part of an ordinance. The Book of Mormon explained that ecclesiastical...

View Glossary
of him who is ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

View Glossary
and sealed

To confirm or solemnize. In the early 1830s, revelations often adopted biblical usage of the term seal; for example, “sealed up the testimony” referred to proselytizing and testifying of the gospel as a warning of the approaching end time. JS explained in...

View Glossary
unto this power, that ye may receive the holy spirit of God, and this according to the holy scriptures, and of the Book of Mormon;27

See Acts 2:38; 19:1–6; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 118–119, 508, 514 [2 Nephi 31:5–13; 3 Nephi 27:20; 4 Nephi 1:1].  


and [p. 16]
the Apostolic platform, and who can look at this, and and not exclaim  in the language of Isaiah, [“]the earth is defiled under the inhabitants  thereof because they have transgressed the Laws; changed the ordinances  and broken the everlasting covenant”18

Isaiah 24:5.  


The plain fact is this, the power of  God begins to fall upon the Nations, and the light of the latter  day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of  sectarian wickedness19

A March 1831 revelation stated that “when the times of the gentiles is come in a light shall break forth among them that sit in darkness & it shall be the fulness of my Gospel.” It also explained that the Lord had “sent mine everlasting covenant unto the World to be a light to the world” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:9, 28]; see also Isaiah 58:8.)  


and their iniquity rools [rolls] up into view  and the Nations of the Gentiles

Those who were not members of the House of Israel. More specifically, members of the church identified gentiles as those whose lineage was not of the Jews or Lamanites (understood to be the American Indians in JS’s day). Certain prophecies indicated that ...

View Glossary
are like the waves of the sea casting  up mire and dirt20

See Isaiah 57:20.  


or all in commotion21

Earlier revelations stated that one of the signs of the times of Christ’s coming is that “the whole Earth shall be in commotion.” (Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45:26]; see also Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:91].)  


and they hastily are  preparing to act the part allotted them when the Lord rebukes  the nations,22

See Micah 4:3; and Isaiah 2:4; 17:13. The July 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star used this same phrase when describing tumult among the nations of the earth: “All the Kingdoms of the East seem to be preparing to act the part allotted to them, when the Lord rebukes the nations.” (“Foreign News,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6].)  


when he shall rule them with a rod of iron &  break them in peaces like a potters vessel,23

See Revelation 2:26–27; and Psalm 2:9.  


The Lord has  declared to his servants some Eighteen months since that  he was then withdrawing his spirit from the earth,24

Likely a reference to the declaration in a 30 August 1831 revelation that “I the Lord am angry with the wicked I am holding my spirit from the inhabitants of the earth.” (Revelation, 30 Aug. 1831 [D&C 63:32].)  


and  we can see that such is the fact for not only the churches are  dwindling away, but there are no convers[i]ons, or but very  few,25

The same issue of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer that published JS’s letter contained a report from the Cumberland Conference in Maine. Several churches there maintained that they had experienced little growth in 1832. One stated, “No admissions to this church the past year”; another declared, “This church has increased but little in number the last year.” Still another said, “Religion is low.” (“Cumberland Conference, Maine,” American Revivalist, and Rochester [NY] Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2].)  


and this is not all, the governments of the earth are  thrown into confusion & division,26

This statement probably reflected not only the ongoing difficulties between South Carolina and the federal government but also problems outside the United States. The July 1832 issue of The Evening and the Morning Star reported that “the wars and rumors of wars, with many other signs of the distress of nations, from the old world, (as it is called across the Ocean) whispers so loud to the understanding, that he that runs may read the label on the Eastern sky: The end is nigh.” At this time, Russia and Persia were continuing a series of wars that began in the 1820s, while Greece was waging a war for independence against the Ottoman Empire. Belgium had only recently concluded its own battle for independence with the Netherlands. (Historical Introduction to Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87]; “Foreign News,” The Evening and the Morning Star, July 1832, [6]; Bitis, “1828–1829 Russo-Turkish War,” 506–525; Pappas, United States and the Greek War for Independence, 1–13, 117–126; Rooney, Revolt in the Netherlands, 175–184.)  


and distruction to  the eye of the spiritual beholder seemes to be writen by  the finger of an invisable hand in Large capitals upon  almost evry thing we behold——
And now what remains to be done  under circumstan[c]es like these, I will proce[e]d to tell you  what the Lord requires of all people high and Low, rich  and poor, male and female, ministers & people professors  of religeon, and nonproffessors in order that they may  enjoy the holy spirit of God to a fulness, and escape the Judg ments of God which are almost ready to burst upon the nations  of the earth— Repent of all your sins and be baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
 in water for the remission of them, in the name of the  father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive  the ordinance

A religious rite. JS taught that ordinances were covenants between man and God, in which believers could affirm faith, gain spiritual knowledge, and seek blessings. Some ordinances were considered requisite for salvation. The manner in which ordinances were...

View Glossary
of the laying on of the hands

A practice in which individuals place their hands upon a person to bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost, ordain to an office or calling, or confer other power, authority, or blessings, often as part of an ordinance. The Book of Mormon explained that ecclesiastical...

View Glossary
of him who  is ordained

The conferral of power and authority; to appoint, decree, or set apart. Church members, primarily adults, were ordained to ecclesiastical offices and other responsibilities by the laying on of hands by those with the proper authority. Ordinations to priesthood...

View Glossary
and sealed

To confirm or solemnize. In the early 1830s, revelations often adopted biblical usage of the term seal; for example, “sealed up the testimony” referred to proselytizing and testifying of the gospel as a warning of the approaching end time. JS explained in...

View Glossary
unto this power, that ye may  receive the holy spirit of God, and this according to  the holy scriptures, and of the Book of Mormon;27

See Acts 2:38; 19:1–6; and Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 118–119, 508, 514 [2 Nephi 31:5–13; 3 Nephi 27:20; 4 Nephi 1:1].  


and [p. 16]
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On 4 January 1833, JS wrote a letter to a newspaper editor identified in the inside address as “N. E. Sextan” of Rochester

Located at falls of Genesee River, seven miles south of Lake Ontario, on Erie Canal. Founded 1812. Incorporated as village, 1817. Originally called Rochesterville; name changed to Rochester, 1822. Incorporated as city, 1834. County seat. Population in 1820...

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, Monroe County, New York. Less than a month later, the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, edited by Noah C. Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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, published a portion of JS’s letter, indicating that Saxton was the intended recipient.1

“Mormonism,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2]. Saxton was previously the editor of the New York Evangelist, which was consolidated with the Rochester Observer in 1832. The Rochester Observer began in 1827 as a Presbyterian newspaper; by the end of 1832, it had three thousand subscribers. It was known as the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer from 29 September 1832 to 13 July 1833. (See French, Gazetteer of the State of New York, 396; Norton, “Comparative Images,” 359, 361.)  


The American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer was a weekly evangelical newspaper published in upstate New York

Located in northeast region of U.S. Area settled by Dutch traders, 1620s; later governed by Britain, 1664–1776. Admitted to U.S. as state, 1788. Population in 1810 about 1,000,000; in 1820 about 1,400,000; in 1830 about 1,900,000; and in 1840 about 2,400,...

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. According to Saxton, the newspaper was devoted to “the free discussion and critical investigation of the doctrines and duties of Christianity.” Saxton encouraged “his brethren in the ministry and other correspondents to contribute liberally to the columns of the Revivalist,” advice that JS apparently took seriously.2

“American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; see also Norton, “Comparative Images,” 359–360.  


Speaking of the time period in which JS wrote this letter, a later JS history states that “appearances of troubles among the nations, became more visible, this season, than they had previously done, since the church began her journey out of the wilderness.” A cholera epidemic, an outbreak of the plague in India, and political tumult between South Carolina and the federal government were especially troubling.3

JS History, vol. A-1, 244.  


JS saw these events, on which Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

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had reported in several issues of his newspaper,4

See, for example, the following articles in the American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer: “Cholera Record,” 29 Sept. 1832, [1]; “Effects of the Cholera,” 29 Dec. 1832, [1]; “Political News: South Carolina Nullification,” 22 Dec. 1832, [3]; and “Persia,” 29 Dec. 1832, [4].  


through a millenarian lens. In the four months before he wrote to Saxton, JS’s revelations and other documents had warned of disasters preceding the return of Jesus Christ—disasters that seemed to be afflicting the world.5

Revelations in 1831 explained events that would precede Christ’s return, but JS seemed especially concerned with signs of the times in late 1832 and early 1833. (See, for example, Revelation, ca. 7 Mar. 1831 [D&C 45]; Revelation, 1 Nov. 1831–B [D&C 1]; Revelation, 3 Nov. 1831 [D&C 133]; Letter to Emma Smith, 13 Oct. 1832; and Letter to William W. Phelps, 31 July 1832.)  


A September 1832 revelation, for example, explained that because “the whole world lieth in sin and groaneth under darkness,” the Lord “laid [his] hand upon the nations to scorge them for ther wickedness.” “Plagues” would continue, the Lord declared in the revelation, “untill I have completed my work.”6

Revelation, 22–23 Sept. 1832 [D&C 84:49, 96–97].  


In October 1832, after walking through the streets of New York City

Dutch founded New Netherland colony, 1625. Incorporated under British control and renamed New York, 1664. Harbor contributed to economic and population growth of city; became largest city in American colonies. British troops defeated Continental Army under...

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, New York, JS lamented that “aganst man is the anger of the Lord kindled because they Give him not the Glory.”7 The calamities that the Lord would pour out on the world were graphically portrayed in a 25 December 1832 revelation: “With the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn and with famine and plague, and Earthquake and the thunder of heaven and the fierce and vivid lightning also shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel.”8

Revelation, 25 Dec. 1832 [D&C 87:6].  


A 27–28 December revelation therefore proclaimed it the duty of the elders

A male leader in the church generally; an ecclesiastical and priesthood office or one holding that office; a proselytizing missionary. The Book of Mormon explained that elders ordained priests and teachers and administered “the flesh and blood of Christ unto...

View Glossary
of the church “to warn the people” and “to prepare the saints, for the hour of judgments, which is to come.”9

Revelation, 27–28 Dec. 1832 [D&C 88:81, 84].  


JS wrote to Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

View Full Bio
partly to issue the required warning. JS explained that God had again established on the earth the covenant that Christ offered during his ministry—a covenant different from the ancient covenants that God had made with the children of Israel. To allow Israel access to this new covenant, the gathering of Israel had commenced, the apostolic church had been restored, and the inhabitants of the earth now needed to repent, be baptized

An ordinance in which an individual is immersed in water for the remission of sins. The Book of Mormon explained that those with necessary authority were to baptize individuals who had repented of their sins. Baptized individuals also received the gift of...

View Glossary
, and receive the Holy Ghost. JS concluded his letter with an explanation of the Book of Mormon, its doctrines, and the establishment of Zion

A specific location in Missouri; also a literal or figurative gathering of believers in Jesus Christ, characterized by adherence to ideals of harmony, equality, and purity. In JS’s earliest revelations “the cause of Zion” was used to broadly describe the ...

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in Missouri

Area acquired by U.S. in Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and established as territory, 1812. Missouri Compromise, 1820, admitted Missouri as slave state, 1821. Population in 1830 about 140,000; in 1836 about 240,000; and in 1840 about 380,000. Mormon missionaries...

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, using imagery from a Book of Mormon allegory that compares Israel to an olive tree.10

See Book of Mormon, 1830 ed., 131–139 [Jacob chap. 5].  


The original letter is no longer extant, but Frederick G. Williams

28 Oct. 1787–10 Oct. 1842. Ship’s pilot, teacher, physician, justice of the peace. Born at Suffield, Hartford Co., Connecticut. Son of William Wheeler Williams and Ruth Granger. Moved to Newburg, Cuyahoga Co., Ohio, 1799. Practiced Thomsonian botanical system...

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copied it into JS’s letterbook, probably soon after its composition. When Saxton

25 Jan. 1798–23 June 1834. Evangelist, Christian newspaper editor. Born in Wilbraham, Hampden Co., Massachusetts. Son of Noah Saxton and Patty Bliss. Graduated from Union College in Schenectady, Schenectady Co., New York, 1818. Received preacher license, ...

View Full Bio
published a portion of the letter—beginning at the paragraph starting with “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers . . .” and continuing to the end of the letter—he prefaced it by stating it was written by “Mr. J. Smith Jr., who we suppose, is a principal leader of the sect that embrace Mormonism.” The letter, Saxton continued, contained “much good feeling and urbanity.”11

“Mormonism,” American Revivalist, and Rochester (NY) Observer, 2 Feb. 1833, [2].  


Subsequent issues of the newspaper contained no commentary or articles about the letter. In February 1833, JS wrote another letter to Saxton, complaining that the editor had published only a portion of the original letter. JS warned him to “publish that letter entire” if he wanted “to clear your garments from the blood of you[r] readers,” but Saxton never published the complete letter.12

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