Speech of Elder O. Hyde upon the
Course & Conduct of Mr. S. Rigdon
(Nauvoo: Times & Seasons Press, 1845)
page 01 Title page 03 Preface
page 06 Problem of Sidney Rigdon
page 22 Rigdon excommunicated
page 25 S. Rigdon "left the Gospel"
page 26 S. Rigdon in St. Louis
page 27 Orson Hyde in St. Louis
page 36 Closing Remarks
E L D E R O R S O N H Y D E.
DELIVERED BEFORE THE
HIGH PRIESTS QUORUM IN NAUVOO,
APRIL 27TH, 1845,
UPON THE COURSE AND CONDUCT OF
MR. SIDNEY RIGDON.
AND UPON THE MERITS OF HIS CLAIM TO THE
PRESIDENCY OF THE
C H U R C H
OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
CITY OF JOSEPH, ILL.
PRINTED BY JOHN TAYLOR:
[ 3 ]
I am happy to enjoy the privilege of meeting, this afternoon, so goodly a number of the chosen men of God on whom the holy priesthood has been placed, to carry into execution the purpose of the Most High -- to spread abroad the light and knowledge of the glorious gospel of God's own son, and to hold the reigns of Government, in conjunction with others, over the destinies of that people who have acknowledged the authority of Jehovah -- bowed the knee to the Prince of life, and placed their necks beneath his yoke.
As I look around me over this vast and honourable assembly, I behold some whose faces I first saw on the other side of the Atlantic, and others whose acquaintances I have made in other States and Territories some years since. The trials, Mr. President, through which we have passed together, at home and abroad, on the land and on the sea, have begotten in my breast a love, a sympathy, and an attachment for these men that time cannot sever; and as our priesthood is an everlasting priesthood, "without beginning of days or end of life," I indulge the fond anticipation of meeting you all beyond the grave where this power and authority will have perfect and complete jurisdiction, and will be a mark of greater honor there to them who have it, than crowns set with the most costly diamonds upon the heads of earthly monarchs here. -- Priesthood is the same to this church that government is to the nation. It is, indeed, the only perfect system of Government that was ever established. It emanated wholly from God. It is born from above, and is destined at some future period to rule all nations. "The kingdoms of this world must become the kingdom of our God." Earthly Governments possess many good and noble principles; but where is a perfect one? It cannot be found. Man has intermingled the alloy and imperfection peculiar to his own nature and being with the most brilliant and noble principles that have survived the general wreck; so earthly governments now present to the discerning eye a similar picture to Jacob's herd of "ringed, streaked and speckled." Under this view of the subject, is not the aspiration spontaneous, "thy kingdom come and thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
There now exists a strong prejudice against men of God having any thing to do with political matters, or the temporal
4interests of men; just as though God managed the spiritual affairs of his kingdom only, and left temporal and political concerns in the hands of the devil, or abandoned them to their own fate. But God presides over all things -- both temporal and spiritual -- both Church and State. He orders the events of nations and controls the universe at pleasure; and if his servants are like him, if they partake of his spirit and of his disposition, they will seek to be co-workers with him in all things. The policy of God's kingdom being perfect, it must, of course, embrace every good thing, whether temporal or spiritual, that can possibly contribute in the happiness and perfection of man. The power that governs this kingdom is the power of God conferred upon man by the commandment of the Holy One through the laying on of hands and the anointing with oil. This power is called the priesthood, and it must become universal in jurisdiction at some time; for the full tide of Millennial glory cannot set in till this is the case. We are also expecting the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven, and we are certain that none can bear rule there except such as are appointed and ordained of God. Lucifer once undertook it, but he with all his adherents, was cast out and thrust down to hell, because of an unlawful ambition in aspiring after a station that Heaven was not pleased to give.
Sugar is very sweet, and lemon is very sour. Any great portion of the former will sicken, and any considerable quantity of the latter will set the teeth on edge. But the two united, counteract or neutralize the qualities of each other and form a combination from which is made a most agreeable beverage, and adapted to the taste of all grades and classes of people. Beasts only refuse it. Sugar is spiritual, and lemon is temporal matters. A false religion keeps them separate. This continues the religious world in an unhealthy state, and sets the teeth of the political world on edge, fitting them to "bite and devour." The Latter-day Saints think proper to lose sight of this distinction by uniting the two in one, and calling every thing an ordinance of religion that can tend to man's perfection and happiness; whether it be to plough and sow the fields, to buy and sell goods wares and merchandize, houses or lands; to go to the polls and vote, to the prayer meeting or to the sacrament of the Lord's supper. All these, with us, are ordinances of religion: and whatever we do, we wish to do all to the glory of God, "For whatever is not of faith is sin." The term "breakfast" includes every articles necessary to satisfy man's appetite in the morning: but should he continue to eat after he has taken a sufficient quantity of food, he would receive harm rather than good. So also the kingdom of God includes every thing necessary for man's present and future well being; but should he attach to himself appendages of his own formation not connected with
5the kingdom of God, he may expect to sink rather than rise in the scale of intellectual enjoyments.
The priesthood is the power by which all things are sustained, and it holds the keys of death and hell. It can bind on earth and it is bound in heaven. It can loose on earth and it is loosed in heaven It can forgive sins on earth and they are forgiven in heaven. It can sit in judgment on earth and that judgment is sanctioned and recorded in heaven. -- Wherever you find a church Mr. President, whose priesthood does not possess this power, know ye that that church is not the church of God according to the New Testament, neither according to the dictates of the spirit of truth.
No doubt but that some of those who drove the saints from Missouri, who robbed and murdered a portion of our brethren, either have or will at some time pray to God to have their souls converted, their sins forgiven, and they prepared for a heavenly inheritance; but they should be told, [that] unless they first get pardon of those whom they have offended, by repairing the wrongs they have done them, and conciliating their favor; that all their prayers and supplications are an abomination before God, and will only be accounted as sin upon their own heads, upon the heads of their children, and upon the heads of their children's children unto the fourth generation. The saints hold the keys of these matters; and this arouses the contempt and indignation of the unbelievers, and they take occasion from these considerations to tantalize and offend us. Truly did Christ say that "offences must come; but woe to them by whom they come." "Better that a mill stone were hung about their neck and they be cast into the depths of the sea than to offend one of these little ones that believe in me:" for as these hold the keys, they may turn them forever against those who offend them, and that refuse to repent or make any satisfaction. In that case it were better for the offender if he had never been born. For whosoever sins the saints retain they are retained.
Those wretched men of blood that slew the prophets within the walls of Carthage prison: WOE UNTO THEM! and woe to them who justify and fellowship the deed!! Oh ye murderers! and you that rejoice in blood! Do you think the wives and children of your murdered victims will forgive you? Do you think the church at large will forgive you? If they will not, you must be damned. If these retain your sins, remember they are retained" and all your prayers and your supplications to any other source for mercy will become sin. The angel of God will persecute you, and evil angels will torment and affright you in your night visions; and in your expiring moments when sinking in the agonies of death, let the bloody ghosts of the martyred prophets appear before you, and let the yawning grave close over your memory, and the earth receive the accursed treasure with garments rolled in innocent blood
6until the last resurrection, where your guilty souls shall receive your bodies again to stand and hear your sentences and final doom from the mouth of those whose blood you have shed; for it stands recorded in "sacred writ:" "the saints shall judge the world."
Mr. President, for this plainness, I may yet have to lay down my life. I may be regarded as a treasonable blasphemous character; but I wanted to express my feelings. I want those murderers to know that their lies cannot always screen them; that although they join the "fraternity of brethren" to save them from the just penalty of their crime; this cunning resort cannot rescue them from punishment. But it may possibly postpone it, and give it a chance to stand on interest till the saints judge the world. All the apology I have to offer is, that these principles are true; and I hope to live to sound them in the ears of my fellow men, and plant them in their hearts; yet I am willing to die to seal this my testimony with the greatest assurance that is in my power to give; and should I fall martyr to these sentiments by the children of this world, I should consider they had conferred on me a mark of greater honor, than to place on my head the richest crown the proudest monarch ever wore.
I ask your pardon, Mr. President, for this digression from the subject; but as I have touched a matter of vital and lasting importance unto us, a matter to be remembered on both sides of the grave, I trust you will grant my request; desiring also, the privilege, as I pass along, of giving to every man a portion in due season.
I would rather, Mr. President, entertain this meeting with eternal principles connected with the kingdom of God and the final triumph of the saints, than to descend in the scale of intelligence to notice the vain babblings and foolish pretensions of a poor miserable apostate from the church, and traitor to his brethren; who stands legally excommunicated, and under the buffetings of the devil. But as I have been requested to deliver an address upon this subject for the benefit of the strange brethren that have recently arrived here from Europe and other parts, I yield to said request. To those however who have been here, and who know the circumstances of the case, a discourse upon the merits of Law, Foster, Higbee, John C. Bennet, Arnold or Judas Iscariot would be of just as much interest.
Mr. Rigdon is a man of many words, and has quite an art of throwing language together so as to amuse his hearers very much; and when this is said, there remains but little more to be told. He is subject to peculiar ebbings and flowings. -- Sometimes, in a gust of passion or a flight of fancy, he takes the comet's track and flies almost "beyond the bounds of time and space;" at other times, he is completely in the jaws of despair; and I consider that nature's God has never laid a
7foundation in such a man, subject to such extreme fluctuations, to govern a great and noble people; for he cannot govern himself. He has been forward to confess the sins of his neighbors before the public, but slow to confess his own. He has always said much about the government of his neighbors' families; but his neighbors may tell what kind of order he has maintained in his own. I need not do it. "But if a man cannot govern his own family, how shall he rule the church of God?" A cloud may water the earth, but it is so fluctuating that it can be no guide to the mariner; so Mr. Rigdon's eloquence has refreshed the saints many times, and under many circumstances, but he is not the star that guides the ship. The cloud, though it favors us with rain, brings darkness; and who that has set under the refreshing showers of his eloquence can say that darkness has not gathered around them at the same time? We were willing that he should remain a cloud to water, but in trying to manufacture himself into a star to guide, he used up all his influence, for a cloud is nothing but fog. Poor materials for a star. He is now a cloud without water floating about on the varied and shifting currents of air. One mark of a noble and generous minds, to extend mercy and kindness to an enemy that submits and sues for favor; but a prominent trait in a tyrant or traitor's character is, to oppress and abuse an enemy when he submits, and cries for quarter. The former traits were conspicuous in the character of Joseph Smith, the latter in Sidney Rigdon.
A poor miserable pusillanimous being may in the day of his prosperity, abuse those who would be his friends, and open the very flood gates of scandal upon them; and then in the day of his waning and adversity creep around them like a fawning sycophant to gain their favor just as though nothing had happened. Now if it is possible for a man to draw down upon himself the just contempt of intelligent people who have been abused by his tongue and by his pen, this course will, most assuredly, effect it. Has not Mr. Rigdon, in times past, written many abusive letters to different persons in Kirtland? And has he not slandered them most outrageously? And is he not now bowing to them? And has he not become very complaisant and affable, even as good as pie with them? The people there may answer the above questions. If he is pursuing this course, a stronger proof of hypocrisy is beyond his power to give.
It is well known to the Saints here and in many other parts, that Mr. Rigdon declared when he came out of Missouri that he would never follow any revelation again that did not tend to his comfort and interest, let it come from Joseph Smith, God Almighty, or anybody else; for he said that God was unjust in suffering him to be so ill used as he was in that State. For the last six or seven years, he has sought his own ease, comfort and interest, and has given himself but little anxiety
8about the welfare of the church of God. But he now tells us that he has stood back because of the iniquity and corruption practiced in the church: But if he saw this corruption, why did he not there and then lift up his voice against it. If the principles of virtuous ambition dwelt in his heart, how could he be comparatively silent for five years gazing upon the flood of iniquity rolling upon the church, as he pretends? He may perhaps say that he was afraid of Joseph Smith, and dare not speak out the sentiments of his heart: Why then did he not take his family and silently retire beyond our borders? But whenever he has spoken before the public here, it has been in the highest terms of commendation, both of the church and of Joseph Smith. And again, if he knew of so much iniquity in the church and would remain silent year after year, or if he spoke at all, speak in great praise of her purity, virtue and attainments, is it likely that God would choose such a man to be a leader of any people? Again, if he viewed the church so abominably corrupt, why did he, at the October Conference in 1843 when about to be cut off for his unfaithfulness, stand before two or three thousand people, and confess and cry aloud like a calf to be spared, saying: "Brethren, where you live. I want to live; where you die, I want to die; and your God shall be my God, and this people shall be my people." If he then knew that this people were wicked, why should he wish to continue with us? If he did not know it, why does he now say that our iniquity was the cause of his being on the back ground? If he has once feared to open his mouth against iniquity, and has been silent when a faithful watchman should have spoken, according to his own position; might he not do the same again? and his he therefore entitled to our confidence as a leader of this people? No! verily no! I have never attempted to trace out the windings of any dissenter or apostate whose track so often crossed itself as that of Sidney Rigdon. -- Inconsistency, treachery and falsehood are the laurels that encircle his brow.
In the month of March, 1844, Mr. Rigdon appeared in council, and Joseph Smith was present. It was in the upper room in the brick building situated on Water Street, commonly known as Joseph's Store. Mr. Rigdon there received an explanation of many important matters connected with the kingdom of God: after which he began to speak, then to shout, then to dance; and threw his feet so high that he lost his balance and came well nigh falling over backwards upon the stove. -- His language was something like the following. "Glory to God and the Lamb! Hallelujah to Jesus that mine eyes have seen this day; and thanks to my brethren that I have been permitted to enter here: for I perceive that God is here with you in power and glory!" He expressed to me at his own house but a day or two after, his entire satisfaction with Joseph as a man of God, and also his approbation of the course of the
9church and council. He was so extravagant in his shoutings in that council that most of the members hung their heads. I also thought to myself that he shouted too loud to shout long. When a tune reaches the highest notes, it very soon turns,
But again, if Mr. Rigdon knew Joseph to be a fallen prophet and such a very bad man, why did he receive and fellowship his appointment to go to Pittsburgh as from God? Some one may ask why Joseph gave him the appointment to go to Pittsburgh and preside over the church. I will answer the question.
Mr. Rigdon has long had a desire to go to the eastern country where he could get cider, apples, peaches and various kinds of fruit; and avoid the toils and privations of a new country. In fact, he would rather return to the flesh pots, leeks and onions of Egypt, than ramble in the wilderness after Moses, and have nothing but manna and quails to eat. -- These desires called down sharp reproofs from God through the prophet time after time. One of which I will here quote from the Book of Covenants, new edition, page 408 and 9 under date of January 19, 1841. "And again, verily I say unto you, if my servant Sidney Rigdon will serve me and be counsellor unto my servant Joseph, let him arise and come up and stand in the office of his calling, and humble himself before me; and if he will offer unto me an acceptable offering and acknowledgments, and remain with my people, behold I the Lord your God will heal him that he shall be healed, and he shall lift up his voice again on the mountains, and be a spokesman before my face. Let him come and locate his family in the neighborhood in which my servant Joseph resides, and in all his journeyings let him lift up his voice as with the sound of a trump, and warn the inhabitants of the earth to flee the wrath to come; let him assist my servant Joseph; and also let my servant William Law assist my servant Joseph in making a solemn proclamation unto the kings of the earth, even as I have before said unto you. If my servant Sidney will do my will, let him not remove his family unto eastern lands, but let him change their habitations, even as I have said. Behold, it is not my will that he shall seek to find safety and refuge out of the city which I have appointed unto you, even the city of Nauvoo. Verily I say unto you even now, if he will hearken to my voice, it shall be well with him: even so, Amen."
The above quotation clearly intimates that he would not remain with God's people -- For there are four important ifs in this revelation which argue a great doubt in the mind of God: and that he would seek refuge and safety out of Nauvoo. -- This, the Lord said, was not his will. But Sidney seeks refuge and safety any where except in Nauvoo. He preaches that Nauvoo is to be speedily overthrown and the people scattered, and that they must flee for refuge or be destroyed. --
10God's ways do not seem to be like Mr. Rigdon's. God says let him not remove his family to the eastern lands; but Joseph appointed him to go east and take his family. How is this matter? I will tell you, Sidney was not content with the word of the Lord to stay here with his family; but was always murmuring about it, and wishing to go east. By and by the spirit of the Lord became grieved with his unwillingness to obey counsel and the word of God; and it was suggested to Joseph: "Forasmuch as Sidney chooses his own ways rather than mine, let him go east with his family even as he has desired; for persecution is coming upon you, and it will be better for you and for my people that he be far away from this place, for he will correspond with the mob and work for the injury of my people if he remain here and be a thorn in your side; for he has not abode in my word, and Satan will have power over him" send him, therefore speedily away from this city, and let him be removed; and I will so overrule his ways that he shall meet the chastisement that is in store for him for his disobedience here and for his blasphemy in the land of Missouri. Nevertheless let him be a candidate for Vice President, and place upon him every mark of honor and respect, that he may have every possible inducement to abide in the truth, being borne up by the good feelings of his brethren. This will be noble and indulgent on your part: but if he will not remain in the faith, but fall from his standing, these honors which you place upon him shall stand as a testimony against him."
Somewhere about the middle of June last, Mr. Rigdon left Nauvoo with his family for Pittsburgh in accordance with his previous wishes, and also in accordance with the counsel of Joseph Smith. He left with the fullest and most perfect satisfaction with Joseph Smith and the whole church if we may believe his own statements. He professed all confidence in Joseph as a man of God, and one would judge from his appearances and conversation, that he felt himself proud of the honor of being in fellowship with him. If he did not in reality feel at heart as he appeared at that time, his hypocrisy becomes the more conspicuous. If he did feel towards him and the church as he then professed, how false and treacherous must be his present course? A man that will extol his friend and eulogize him in the very heavens while in life; but after he is dead, to scandalize his memory, and slander his sleeping ashes, betrays the meanest spirit, the most treacherous and cowardly disposition, and the most depraved and corrupt heart" for it is virtually acknowledging that he was in full fellowship with all the iniquity with which he accuses his deceased friend: but because he was disappointed in aspiring to be the leader of this people, he must try to destroy us by slandering our character. The fox said the grapes were sour when he found he could not get them
11Mr. Rigdon arrived in Pittsburgh on the morning of the 27th of June, the very day on which Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered. One week from the following Sunday he preached to a large audience in Mr. Broadhurst's green, and directed the whole tide and strength of his eloquence to extol and eulogize Joseph Smith, and also this city and people of Nauvoo. This I have from an eye and ear witness whose testimony I cannot doubt, for it is corroborated by many. One would even suppose that Nauvoo and her inhabitants were just let down from the celestial world according to his description of them" and now the iniquity and corruption that are alledged against the church by him, are urged as an apology for his standing on the back ground for the last few years. Who believes him to be an honest man? ("None who know him." resounded from different parts of the audience.) By this time, the news had just reached Mr. Rigdon, of the murder of Joseph and Hyrum, but he did not believe it, and even told the Lord in his public prayer that he did not believe it; and now he or some of his satellites pretend to say he had a vision of the whole murderous scene in Pittsburgh eight or ten days before it occurred, when indeed he was not in Pittsburgh at the time stated.
The Twelve Apostles were mostly in the eastern cities when the sad news of the murder reached us. We met in council as soon as circumstances would allow, and agreed to return to Nauvoo to put things in order and comfort the hearts of the saints. We addressed a note to Mr. Rigdon and Elder Page, stating to them our design, and wished them to meet us in Nauvoo as soon as consistent. to comfort the saints in the day of their extreme grief, mortification, and sorrow. We were designing to return by Buffalo and Chicago: Mr. Rigdon received our letter and started forthwith for this city. He arrived here on Saturday, the 3rd day of August, four or five days in advance of the Twelve. Some two or three of the Twelve were here, but not a quorum. By these he was kindly, frankly, and cordially received. They requested the privilege of a private interview with him the next morning at Brother Taylor's, before public services should begin. Elder Taylor had been shot to pieces in Carthage jail by the mob, having four balls lodged in his body, he had not sufficiently recovered to be about. This was the reason why he was requested to meet them at Brother Taylor's. Thus he had one whole day to shake hands with his friends. He agreed to meet them in the morning according to their desires. In good faith, when the morning came, the brethren repaired to Elder Taylor's, and here they waited an hour and a half after the time agreed upon; but Mr. Rigdon did not come. Elder Parley P. Pratt was then sent to his house to learn the reason why he remained away. He found him so deeply engaged in conversation with a strange lawyer about nothing, that he
12professed to have forgotten all about his appointment: but continued his nonsense with the lawyer for a long time after just to pass off time apparently, while Elder Pratt waited with all the patience and silence of a little errand boy; and when the time of public services had nearly arrived, he blustered about, and said: "Well, well! Brother Pratt, I must go with you now without delay." Consequently they started, but finding the people were already flocking in multitudes to the public stand, Mr. Rigdon said he did not think there would be time to have any counsel this morning as the people were already collecting for public service. He, therefore turned about and went to the stand to preach, leaving his brothers to do their own counseling at that time; no doubt preferring to tamper with the flock rather than with the shepherd. The wolf would rather get in among the sheep than come near the Shepherd. His text was from one of the old prophets, "My ways are not as your ways, &c. In this discourse he related the wonderful visions he had received in Pittsburgh just before he left that place. There were perhaps five or six thousand persons who listened attentively to his sayings on that occasion. The place where he received them, he said, was in an upper room in his own hired house; a room which he had prepared for retirement and sacred reflection.
On this occasion, he testified that Joseph had ascended to heaven, and that he stood on the right hand of the Son of God, and that he had seen him there, clothed with all the power, glory, might, majesty, and dominion of the celestial kingdoms:-- That he held the keys of the kingdom and would continue to hold them to all eternity, -- that he had received the crown, and the kingdom must be built up unto him, and that no man could ever take his place, neither have power to build up the kingdom to any other creature or being but to Joseph Smith. While here just before his excommunication from the church, he taught that Joseph Smith was at the head of this kingdom -- that our prayers went first to him -- from him to the Apostle Peter, -- from Peter to Christ, -- and that Christ presented them to the Father. He further said that the visions he had in Pittsburgh were a continuation of the same vision that he and Joseph had in Kirtland several years ago concerning the different glories or mansions in the "Father's house." These statements were furnished me by those who heard them. (Here a general response from the congregation, "we all know they are true, for we heard them ourselves.")
The following statement from the journal of William Clayton who took the notes of Rigdon's discourse at the time he delivered it: "There must be a guardian appointed to build up the church unto Joseph Smith as he has begun it, and to carry out his measures." On Sabbath afternoon, August 4th, Elder Marks came upon the stand, interrupted Elder Rich while speaking, and gave out an appointment for the church
13to come together on Thursday morning, next; to choose a guardian. The appointment was opposed on the ground that a quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to whom the dictation of such matters legally belongs, was not present. It was urged that as the Apostles were daily and hourly expected, it would be only paying to them the respect that was their due, to postpone any move or action upon this matter until their arrival.
Mr. Marks observed that Mr. Rigdon wished the meeting called on Tuesday to attend to the choosing of a guardian, as his domestic or family concerns were left in such a condition as to require his immediate return: But he, Marks, had persuaded Mr. Rigdon to postpone it until Thursday, so that word might be sent to all the branches in this country. The objections were waived under the conviction that the Twelve would arrive before that time. Tuesday night, August 6th, five more of the Twelve returned, among whom was the president of our quorum. This constituted a quorum to do business; some eight or nine of the Twelve being present: Mr. Rigdon's tone was by this time, very much changed. He said he had given out the meeting for the church to come together for a general prayer meeting and a mutual interchange of thought -- that the meeting was not designed as a business meeting to take any action whatever on the affairs of the church. Mr. Marks said that Mr. Rigdon directed him to give out the appointment for the church to come together to choose a guardian, and that he fulfilled the injunction. A lie lies between them; and I guess where it lies. Although Mr. Marks has his own peculiarities, I do not believe he would tell a lie out of "whole cloth."
Thursday came, August 8th, and Mr. Rigdon appeared early on the ground and began to speak. He urged his claims with all the eloquence and power that he was master of, and was just about to ask an expression of the people by vote; when lo! to his grief and mortification, the president of our quorum stepped upon the stand, who was the first there of our number, and with a word stayed all the proceedings of Mr. Rigdon. Others of the Twelve soon came, and assisted President Young in laying open the true principles on which the church was to act; which were so plain, and commended themselves to every one's conscience so forcibly that Mr. Rigdon, himself, refused, before this assembly, to have his name voted for, either as spokesman or guardian to this church. -- The question was then put; "All in favor of supporting the Twelve in their calling," (the several quorums of officers being present and duly arranged in order) "signify it by the uplifted hand." The vote was unanimous; not a hand being raised in the negative. The next vote was, that the Twelve should select and appoint two bishops to act as trustees for the church according to law. This vote was also unanimous.
Had Mr. Rigdon been sent of God to take the helm of
14Zion's ship in this place, why did he not stand up before the strongest men in Israel, assert his rights, and maintain them? If the "keys of conquest" or even the keys of the kingdom had been given to him, he might have conquered twelve men, and rescued a mighty people from under their dominion: but if he could not conquer twelve men, how will he conquer little Vick and her kingdom? or what good will his keys of conquest do him. This people are a good people, Mr. Rigdon being their judge: for he declared to them in my presence some weeks after he was rejected as guardian and leader of this church, that they were the best and most blessed people on the earth: He says: "Brethren, you shall rise up and not go down; you shall go forward and not backward; you shall prevail against your enemies, and shall not be prevailed against." Baalam could not curse Israel, but bless altogether. And we can truly say that his words, thus far, have been fulfilled to the very letter. Our Temple is rising, our borders enlarging, our numbers increasing at home and abroad, our prospects are brightening, our hearts are expanding, and our union is strengthening. What Mr. President, must be thought of that shepherd who runs away from the sheep, and leaves the wolves among them to destroy them? And suppose that shepherd cries as he runs; "the wolves are among the sheep!" Would not every one ask why he did not stay and defend them? But suppose he should say, I was afraid of the wolves and ran away? Would not every one say, he was a cowardly hireling and did not own the sheep, and therefore had no love for them? Certainly. Well, Mr. Rigdon professes to be the true shepherd, and the Twelve Apostles are regarded by him as wolves. We tried our claim to the sheep, and the result plainly shows that Mr. Rigdon was foiled -- took fright and ran away. The true shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep like Joseph and Hyrum Smith. The wolf will run away when he hears the shepherd's voice, just as Mr. Rigdon ran away to Pittsburgh when the voice of the Twelve proclaimed his true character. His natural tendency seemed to be to that place where they have fire, brimstone, sulpher and smoke: -- A place devoted to fire; and I would here caution all the saints to pray that the Rigdonites may be kept far from their midst; for they do not know but their boasted keys of conquest, are the lighted torch. No city, place or town will prosper where they are located. Mr. Rigdon's keys of conquest were such a profound secret that one may conjecture many things, and still be wrong. But a prophecy I will here deliver in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ; that the hand of God shall be against the place where they dwell; and that too, independent of the agency of any mortal being. -- Any man that will advise his followers to arm themselves with deadly weapons and go upon the meeting ground, and there by force of arms prevent the authorities of the church from
15bringing him to trail, as it is said Mr. Rigdon did in a council held at his own house on the morning of the 8th of Sept. 1844: A man whose conscience would allow him to do a thing of this kind, would light the torch of destruction, and scatter the firebrands of desolation wherever he saw his ambition was likely to be checked or his power curtailed.
This hellish plot was revealed by Elder Marks to Moses Daley, and Moses Daley revealed it to me. Elder Marks was ordained as Rigdon's chief counsellor under his own hands in his new or secret organization. I took the statements down in writing from Daley's own mouth, and carried them to Elder Marks and asked him if they were true; he answered me in the affirmative; but said, that he opposed the measure, and told them it was of the devil, and it did not carry. Elder Marks did better in opposing this bloody design than he did in the afternoon when he spoke in favor of Mr. Rigdon, after he saw that murder was in his heart. After Mr. Rigdon was rejected by this people as a leader and guardian, he was no longer in such wonderful haste to get back to Pittsburgh: nut he thought to make this his strong plea, to urge an action by the church before the Twelve returned; for he knew that he would be defeated if he waited till they came. The Twelve came; he was consequently defeated, and then it ceased to be so very necessary for him to return immediately to his family. He could stay and try to work secretly and underhandedly to effect his object, in whole or in part. He could go out to La Harpe and tarry there long enough to set up a vision factory, and to employ several skillful manufacturers to supply him with what he forgot to obtain in Pittsburgh, and to make all accessory alterations in those he had previously manufactured. I give this to you as it came to me. I cannot vouch for the correctness of it, further than that Rigdon was at La Harpe several days, and it was claimed that great visions were there shown him; and that one Cole seemed to be foreman in the business: and as Rigdon now teaches that Joseph is with hypocrites and unbelievers, it is plain that he has either rejected his first visions in toto; or that he has materially altered and revised them; and I believe they were revised and new modelled at La Harpe to suit the present crisis: for circumstances had become rather adverse to his first project.
On Sunday, the 1st of September last, Mr. Rigdon delivered his last public sermon in this city. The fore part of it seemed to have for its object, the suppression of every feeling of war or revenge:-- that God would avenge our wrongs, and that as soon as we would abandon all thoughts of doing it ourselves, he would then do it most effectually. This caution was uncalled for: we have never cherished the thought of avenging our own wrongs, but only to stand in our own defence. The latter part of his discourse was all blood, war and
16conquest. His own language was: "Brethren, I am going to fight a real bloody battle with sword and with gun. I will collect a mighty army, and this army is to be composed of saints, worldlings, blacklegs, counterfeiters, bogus makers, but they will be all honorable men, and lovers of liberty. -- With these, I will fight the battles of the Lord. I will also cross the Atlantic, encounter the queens forces, and overcome them -- plant the American standard on English ground, and then march to the palaces of her majesty, and demand a portion of her riches and dominions, which if she refuse, I will take the little madam by the nose and lead her out, and she shall have no power to help herself. If I do not do this; the Lord never spake by mortal." Sidney need not deny this; for some five thousand men, women, and children heard him. I also heard him; and he said much more also of the very same stripe: but I suppose he would not like to hear it repeated. The great majority of the people here thought that if such kind of characters were to compose his army, they did not care to enlist. But since the scum of Rigdonism has floated off from this place, taking with it the filth of our population, we hear no more complaint about bogus makers, or counterfeit money. The fire was so hot under us, that the Rigdonites rose up and floated off, and are gone to fry and sweat in Pittsburgh.
At the close of this discourse he said that we were the most blessed people on earth; -- that he had no desire to lead any people away with him to Pittsburgh -- that he did not wish to make any division whatever in the church nor interfere at all with the affairs in Nauvoo; he said we were doing right to build the Temple -- we were fulfilling the commandment of God, and that we had no time to lose. This was his farewell address: and when walking off from the stand, he poured out his blessings upon us as a people, and left his peace with us, and asked the congregation if he should return in peace to Pittsburgh? It was responded to from every quarter of the assembly; "go in peace." He then says again, "my peace I leave with you; farewell! farewell!" and left the assembly: but there was a kind of strangeness in his preaching, and in all his sayings and doings that day that seemed to chill the feelings of all the saints, and to establish the conviction in them that God was not with him. His voice to this people was the voice of a stranger, and consequently they would not follow him.
On Monday night following, Sept. 2nd, he began his secret career to divide the church according to the plan that he had been laying in La Harpe for some two weeks previous. He need not deny this; for his own son-in-law divulged the plan to a certain man while Mr. Rigdon was in La Harpe, and it has been proven, and can be again if necessary. He commenced privately to teach that it was not necessary to
17build the Temple -- that it never would be built -- that God had rejected us because of our iniquity, and in short that Nauvoo would soon be overthrown. He ordained men to great and unheard of offices in the church -- not only Prophets and Priests but even "Kings" to hold the "keys of David." He also selected several whom he appointed Generals, aid-de-camps -- quartermasters &c. to fit out his great army. On Tuesday the bubble burst, and his secret was no longer his own. It reached the ears of the Twelve to the great annoyance and discomfiture of the would be leader of this people.
On Tuesday evening, the same day, President Young and myself visited him at his own house, and called him to an account for his proceedings in secret, which were in exact opposition to his public declarations to the whole congregation on the Sabbath previous. The utter confusion, perturbation, and consternation into which this man was thrown on finding that his scheme was exploded, I will not attempt to describe. To look however, upon a man who had soared so high amid the constellations of intelligent bodies, so suddenly precipitated into the shades of guilt and shame, caused me secretly to exclaim; "How are the mighty fallen!" I never saw a man in my whole life that betrayed more guilt than Mr. Rigdon did on that occasion. He knew not what to say, nor which way to turn. Poor man! He here found himself ensnared completely in his own net. We labored much with him during the afternoon and evening. I am sure he felt the lameness of his cause, but he could see no place to back out honorably. Late in the evening, our whole quorum visited him, together with Bishop Whitney and several others. We could frequently silence and confound him in his conversation: but we could not make him acknowledge his error. -- We left his house and retired by ourselves for consultation; -- the result of which was, that Mr. Rigdon was a false and corrupt man in our estimation, and that we could not fellowship him either as a minister or a member of our church. Consequently, it was resolved to demand his license: whereupon Elders Parley P. Pratt, Amasa Lyman, and myself were the committee deputed to wait on him and to demand his license, and to inform him also that our meeting on the next Sabbath would be resolved into a conference of the whole church, together with its authorities, either to confirm or reject our present action upon his case. We faithfully and courteously executed our orders: but he refused to give up his license, saying that he did not receive it from us; neither should be give it up to us. He affected to treat our whole proceedings with contempt, saying: "I have sat here all the evening and laughed in my sleeve to see you fulfill the vision which I had in Pittsburgh before I left; for I saw that you would reject me, and cut me off from the church." But I would ask; if he saw himself rejected and cut off from the church, why he
18said, on leaving Pittsburgh for this city as I have been told, that he would now come here and take his place at the head of this church in spite of men or devils?" Has he had none but men and devils to oppose his design, he certainly would have accomplished it if he had been a man of God, and sent by God to do it. We told him that we had reasoned with him until we saw that reason had no influence over him, or that he was not a subject of reason; -- that we had not returned to resume any contention, but we had come to demand his license: but as he refused to give it up, we should be under the necessity of publishing a notice in the "Neighbor" of the next day, (Wednesday) and of citing him to trial before the meeting or conference on the following Sunday. He then told us that we were full of iniquity, that we had not been led by the Lord for a long time, and that he had known it. -- The he should reveal all the secret works of darkness, and bring to light and expose, in open day, all the hidden transactions of this people, and that which was done at midnight hours in secret chambers, and intimated that this would bring a mob upon us and break us up: but Mr. President, you will not forget that Mr. Rigdon declared in public on the stand, on the Sunday before, Sept. 1st; that we were the most blessed people on the earth: that we should be blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, that he left his peace with us, and blessed us in the name of the Lord. He said we should prevail against our enemies, and not be prevailed against. Well, Mr. Rigdon turned to be our enemy; did he not? And must we not prevail against him if his prophecy is true? The Rigdonites may answer. I told Mr. Rigdon, however, that I was glad that he had given us a key to the treachery and deceit, but could get no positive evidence until now; and now, out of your own mouth can we know you and judge you: but if you reveal, said I nothing but the truth, it will increase our power and influence, and if you tell lies, it will diminish your own. I continued further and said: "a;; the exertion you make, Mr. Rigdon, to bring trouble, distress, or reproach upon this people, shall, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, recoil upon your own head; and now, if the history of those who have gone before you on the same track, does not prove my declaration true, to your satisfaction; let your future experience do it."
The notice appeared in the "Neighbor" of Wednesday, Sept. 4th, that fellowship was withdrawn from Sidney Rigdon, and that on the next Sunday, the 8th inst. his case would be presented before the church for their action. This notice reached his observation in due time, besides being notified by the committee in person at the time we demanded his license. Sunday, the 8th, came, and early in the morning of this day Mr. Rigdon met in council with some of his confidential
19friends, and counselled them to arm themselves and go and take possession of the public Stand and prevent the church from bringing him to trial: But Elder Marks, Mr. Rigdon's principal counsellor, opposed the bloody designs so firmly that it fell through: This I have from Mr. Marks' own mouth: As no defence; but treat the matter as being far beneath his notice. He did not consider it beneath his notice to try to get us killed, it appears. Oh shame! shame!! Word was brought to the Stand by Elder Marks after the assembly had convened that Mr. Rigdon would not attend to make any defence on account of ill health. But Mr. Rigdon did not lack the ability to attend conference, but the disposition as it afterwards proved. He might have been sick at heart with chagrin and disappointment because he found that he could not save himself from an investigation before the people; but as for any other affliction upon him more than was common, was all a fabrication, and like a drowning man catching at straws.
Now if Mr. Rigdon had any legal, moral or equitable claim to the presidency of this church, a better opportunity of establishing that claim, he could not have had inasmuch as he neglected to do it at a previous meeting: for here were the united authorities of the church, together with the general body of its members, all convened in conference for the express purpose of deliberating upon his course and conduct. This people have lived for years in the daily observation of Mr. Rigdon's proceedings. They have seen his person -- they have also seen and known his works; and if his claims to the presidency had taken root in their affections, his triumph would have been certain, and he would have nothing to fear: -- But his spirit had been so plainly manifest to them, -- a spirit of hypocrisy and pride -- a spirit of self will and overbearance manifesting itself in time past in false and wicked revelations -- revelations entitled to no higher origin than his own corrupt and selfish heart. His own confession of this before living and responsible witnesses abundantly confirms my statements. -- But if a false or unjust prejudice has arisen against him, there was the very place, and then was the very time for him to rise up, and with the floods of his eloquence, to have swept away that prejudice that might be eddying round our hearts. But he well knew that he had been playing a double handed game with us, -- that he had professed all friendship and good faith for the church in public, and in private, with his most confidential friends, had taught the very reverse. He also knew that we were in possession of all the facts.
Under a consciousness, therefore, of his entire inability to sustain himself or his pretensions with any honor before the people, he resolved to shelter himself under an affected contempt of our proceedings, or the feigning of ill health. This was the only, last, and miserable refuge to which he could fly;
20as a defence made by him would only have made his villainy the more conspicuous, and rendered his overthrow and downfall more complete.
I wish it here to be distinctly understood by all the saints that it is a principle of doctrine held sacred by us, that no officer in this church can possibly get so high as to be beyond the reach of the laws of the church. Mr. Rigdon may attempt to show that Joseph Smith was cut off for his sins, and that the Book of Doctrine and Covenants points him out as his successor: but his own Pittsburgh vision of Joseph being in heaven holding the keys of the kingdom, proves the first to be a lie, and there is not a vestige of evidence in the book referred to to justify his claim. But admit him to be our president and leader" Would he not then be subject to an examination and trial before the proper authorities upon a charge being preferred against him? Most certainly. Or if the authorities should mutually agree to enquire into his course, and to ascertain whether it was good or bad; have they not the right and power to do it? Yes, they have. On examination, suppose they should judge his course to be bad; have they not the right and power to call an assembly together, and to place the proper officers to sit in judgment where the law requires them to stand, and cite him to appear before that body for investigation and trial? Yes they have. If, then, he should be found guilty before this tribunal, and should refuse to make the concession or satisfaction which this tribunal should require; have they not the power to excommunicate him, and send him adrift on the world, disrobed of his sacerdotal garments, and shorn of the honors of directing the course of God's people? Yes, they have: and what they bind on earth will be bound in heaven
Mr. Rigdon's trial, therefore, on the 8th of September, was not to ascertain whether he or the twelve apostles should preside over this church; for that question was settled at a meeting on the 8th of August, just one month previous. That meeting was appointed by Elder Marks at the instance of Mr. Rigdon, just before the Twelve came home, for the purpose of choosing a guardian to carry out the measures of Joseph Smith, and to build up the kingdom unto him, according as Mr. Rigdon then taught. The vote being there put to know who would sustain the Twelve in their calling, as the first presidency of the church, it was unanimous in their favor; not a hand raised in opposition; (the Twelve having returned just in time to attend this meeting.) And Mr. Rigdon did here positively refuse to have his name voted for, either as the spokesman or guardian of this people, though the meeting was called at his instance, and for the avowed purpose of his being appointed the guardian.
Although this last meeting on the 8th of September, was not designated to investigate Mr. Rigdon's claims to the presidency; still, we should have been pleased to hear their merits
21set forth for it would have given us a better opportunity to expose his foolish pretensions.
The sum and substance of the offences for which he was excommunicated from the church was, first: in trying to palm upon us a false revelation which was that God had shown him that a guardian must be appointed to build up the kingdom to Joseph Smith. The twelve apostles had long before been chosen and empowered to build up the kingdom of Jesus Christ, and to bear it off to all the world. We have been taught that Joseph Smith is a servant of God, and to regard him as a ruler in God's kingdom. But to build up the kingdom to him is a false notion. God never showed Mr. Rigdon this: for he will never give his glory to another. Mr. Rigdon was filled with a dishonest enthusiastic spirit, in that he tried to effect his appointment as guardian, before the Twelve came home. When, indeed, if any appointment of that kind had to be made, the Twelve were the only ones authorized to do it, in connection with the whole church. And such an appointment could never be legal unless it were sanctioned by the twelve apostles. Secondly; he professed to have many visions and revelations concerning Joseph and the church, that he never had, for he contradicts them now himself, though he told many truths concerning them, still, they were no more given him by revelation than it would be to me if I should declare that the sun actually set last night, or that it will rise tomorrow morning. Thirdly; he dissembled, and tried to divide the church of God under a cloak of fair speeches to our faces, yet behind our backs in secret, he tried to destroy the church by sowing the seeds of division. He took the responsibility of ordaining prophets, priests, and kings, contrary to any known usage in the church. He also ordained generals and aid-de-camps, to organize a great army to fight the Gentiles, &c., &c. Now all these we regard as originating in his own extravagant and wicked heart; but not having weight of character enough to pass them off upon the credulity of the saints in his own name, he borrowed, (rather stole) the name of God and revelation, to help pass off his bogus revelations, to beguile and ensnare the saints.
The rule and law of the church by which he was tried and excommunicated, may be found on the 109th page of the book of Doctrine and Covenants, new edition, 37th paragraph. It reads as follows: "And inasmuch as a president of the high priesthood shall transgress, he shall be had in remembrance before the common council of the church. (which is the bishop,) who shall be assisted by twelve counsellors of the high priesthood; and their decision upon his head, shall be an end of controversy concerning him. Thus, none shall be exempted from the justice and the laws of God; that all things may be done in order and solemnity before him according to truth and righteousness. Mr. Rigdon had been a president of the high priesthood, but for several years had not magnified his
22office. He was found in transgression. He was guilty of teaching false doctrine -- of dissimulation and falsehood. These were proven against him before Bishop Whitney and twelve counsellors of the high priesthood and also before the whole body of the church in this place. He was called upon to plead his defence, but did not appear. The stand was then offered to any friend of his that wished to step forward and occupy it. Elder Marks came forward and spoke a short time in his favor. I think Elder Marks; conscience must have been elastic to speak in favor of a man who had proposed blood and murder in the morning to defeat the ends of justice. His remarks, however, produced no feeling favorable to Mr. R.
The question was then called for; whereupon Bishop Newel K. Whitney, one of the first bishops in our church, arose at the head of his counsellors, and in a short and appropriate speech recounted Mr. Rigdon's past history, having been personally and intimately acquainted with him for nearly twenty years. He observed that Mr. Rigdon, once before in the early stages of this church, while in Kirtland, received a false revelation, and appeared to be just as certain that he was right as he now does, until he was sharply reproved by Joseph Smith, and lost his license in consequence of it, which license Bishop Whitney then held in his hands. He observed that Joseph Smith's uniform testimony concerning him was, that he would do well if some one could hold the reins, and stand over him with a rod; but that if he attempted to govern or guide, he would run directly to destruction with all who followed him. The decision of the bishop was, therefore, that Mr. Sidney Rigdon be cut off from the church of the true and living God. His counsellors all arose, one by one, and sanctioned the decision, making such other remarks as they saw fit. It was then laid before all the quorums of authority and also the whole body of the saints, all of whom sanctioned the decision with the exception of four persons. He was then delivered over to the buffetings of Satan by the united voice of the whole church until he repent and humble himself before God and his brethren.
Mr. Rigdon now stands excommunicated from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the very law which he himself helped to make, and which he voluntarily gave his name to sanction; and this law has been executed upon him by the highest competent tribunal in said church: and the same law says, "this shall be an end of controversy concerning him."
Suppose now the Governor of our State, or the President of our nation should be tried for some offence, by the highest competent tribunal of his country, and broken of his office. -- There is no appeal; for he has been condemned by the highest power known to the nation. He must, therefore, submit to the decision, right or wrong; unless he can effect a revolution in the Government. Well, suppose he undertake to effect a revolution; but after he has begun, he finds that only
23about one man in a hundred will join his standard. He then files a bill before some officers of the Government to obtain all the Government property; saying that he has been illegally dealt with, and is, therefore, the President or Governor still: what judge, jury, or chancellor would give him any portion of the Government property? Well, Mr. Rigdon has been tried for misdemeanors by the highest competent tribunal in the church. He had been found guilty and broken of his office and exiled from the body. There being no appeal, he tries to effect a revolution in the church, but out of about eighty thousand, he can only get about two hundred men, women and children to follow him. He claims that he and his party are the true church -- that he was illegally cut off or broken of his office, and is the true leader still; and he lays in his claim for the church property: but what judge, jury, or chancellor would believe him, or consider him morally, legally, or religiously entitled to any portion of it. Will any legal court take the responsibility of saying that Mr. Rigdon is the true church? Is not the church herself competent to determine whom she will fellowship, and whom she will reject? And should not a legal tribunal have respect to the action of the church when that action involves the right of property? If not, a Methodist, Presbyterian or Campbellite minister that has been expelled for transgression, may commence an action to obtain all the property of his respective church to which he belonged: but a legal tribunal must, I should think, have some respect to the action of the church. I should not consider that a man who has been legally expelled from a religious body for any offence against the laws of that body, could possibly be thought, by any reasonable man, heir to any portion of the property of that body. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has stood the shocks and tempests that have burst upon her, like a rock in the midst of the ocean, undaunted and unmoved: while Mr. Rigdon, with a few excommunicated and disaffected members have flown off like so many drossy sparks from under the refiner's hammer -- that can shine but for a moment.
To show further that the church had a legal right as a body to sit in judgment upon his head, let his power be ever so great or his station ever so high; I will quote from the law of God, Book of Covenants, new edition, page 212, paragraph 7. "Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days; and the rebellious shall be cut off out of the land of Zion and shall be sent away (to Pittsburgh) and shall not inherit the land; for verily I say that the rebellious are not of the blood of Ephraim; wherefore they shall be plucked out. Behold I the Lord have made my church in these last days like unto s judge sitting on an hill, or in a high place, to judge the nations: for it shall come to pass that the
24inhabitants of Zion (not one would be president) shall judge all things pertaining to Zion: and liars and hypocrites shall be proved by them, and they who are not apostles and prophets shall be known." The greatest obstacle Mr. Rigdon met with in his road to the presidency of this church was, the knowledge which this people had of him.
Also one more item of law, see Book of Covenants, new edition, page 102, paragraph 11. "Of the Melchisedek priesthood, three presiding high priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the presidency of the church. The Twelve traveling counsellors are called to be Twelve Apostles or special witnesses in the name of Christ, in all the world; thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling. And they form a quorum equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned."
Now here are two quorums; one of three members, and one of twelve. These two quorums possess equal authority and power, the one with the other when both their numbers are complete. A majority of either quorum may constitute a presidency; but a minority cannot. Mr. Rigdon was the only surviving member of the first quorum; and he being the minority of that quorum, was disqualified to act. The quorum of the Twelve was full and complete. Now if it take Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, and Sidney Rigdon to exercise as much strength and power as the Twelve Apostles, can Sidney Rigdon exercise as much power as the Twelve after these two men are taken away? To be upheld by the faith, confidence and prayer of the church, is an important consideration according to the law. Which then stood first in the confidence of the church? The experience on the 8th of August last answers the question. The Twelve then received the unanimous vote of the whole body as the first presidency of the church, while Mr. Rigdon, knowing he had not the confidence of this people, neither had had for several years, refused to have the vote taken on his head. On the 8th of September following, being excommunicated by a vote of nearly seven thousand to four persons, shows how firmly he was upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the church.
At our April conference in 1840, Joseph Smith declared that he had carried Rigdon upon his back for a long time, and he would now throw him off, and carry him no longer. -- But as the twelve did not take a very active part to put Rigdon down at that time, the church through pity held on upon him and he was retained. Joseph afterwards chastized the twelve severely for their backwardness on this occasion. -- He said to us: "why will you suffer the church to put that old hypocrite upon my shoulders again after I have thrown him down? But, as you have neglected to help me put him down,
25you will have it to do yourselves when it will cost you more to do it than it would now."
Admitting that Mr. Rigdon was in full fellowship and confidence of the saints -- admitting also that he was not only legally entitled to the presidency of this church, but actually installed in that office; it would only render his crimes the more conspicuous, and the duty of excommunicating him would become the more imperative: for let it be remembered forever and ever, that in this church, crime is measured and determined by the height to which a man ascends in the scale of intelligence and power. This admission, then, makes it worse for Rigdon and his followers instead of brightening their prospects. But he has not been in the full fellowship and confidence of the saints for several years; neither has he any claim by commandment, revelation, prophecy or vision that is acknowledged as canonical in this church, to the presidency thereof. Neither has he any claim to it by his fidelity or uprightness. The affections and confidence of this people he has failed to win. While the true servants of God have been abroad with their lives in their hands -- have encountered perils at home and abroad, on the land and on the sea -- have faced storms and passed through calms to bring together the scattered sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty; Mr. Rigdon has been sitting at home, smoking his pipe, and drinking his brandy: though as an apology for his drinking brandy, he has for several years claimed to be afflicted more or less with a very bad bowel complaint. A man who loves liquor can always find an apology for drinking it. But I believe doctors, after using one sort of medicine a year or two without effecting a cure, try some other kind of medicine; but Mr. Rigdon is not so changeable as all this in these matters.
He lived by the gospel until he removed to Missouri, and there he left the gospel pretty much, and commenced the study of law, and concluded to be a lawyer. He could not rest until he had placed himself in a direct line for an arrow from the lips of Jesus Christ to pierce his inmost soul. The arrow is: "Woe unto you lawyers." Whenever you see a Latter-day Saint preacher turn to be a lawyer, remember that he considers his interest in this world of greater value, than his interest in the world to come. And he, no doubt, thinks truly too; for I do not consider he has much interest in the world to come any how; and he, of course cannot place a very high value upon it. Very few honorable exceptions.
I have known some young men to pay their addresses to young ladies, and have tried to gain their affection to marry them. They have dealt out flattering compliments to them with a liberal hand, have made their boasts to their neighbors and friends of their superior virtues and accomplishments; but by and by happen to get the mitten; then these same young dandies would, to cover the shame and disgrace of their own
26defeat, raise bad reports of those girls -- charge them with improper and perhaps unvirtuous conduct. How despicably mean and contemptible must that young man appear in the eyes of all civil society, who would treat a young lady like that! This, Mr. President, is precisely the course that Mr. Sidney Rigdon has taken with this church. When he came to us from Pittsburgh, what a blessed people we were! even the most blessed people on earth: Oh! how I love you; you are so good -- so kind -- so virtuous -- so humane -- so benevolent -- so heavenly -- and more than all this: Joseph was such a good man, such a heavenly minded man -- so pure -- so lovely -- has ascended through a martyr's blood to the throne on the right hand of the son of God, holding the keys of the kingdom. I have seen it all in a vision before I left Pittsburgh: and I also have been rolling in that white meal. Don't you see how white and pure I am? and now, my dear, won't your marry me -- take me for your guardian, or let me be your leader or spokesman? Oh dear! how I feel for your welfare; and now don't give me the mitten -- don't sack me, for you won't prosper if you turn away a man that loves you so well. All this flattery was so flat, that it sickened us; and we thought he loved us as a hawk does a chicken; consequently gave him the mitten. But after we had given him the mitten genteely and politely, on the 8th of August, in a way that would have satisfied any man that possessed the spirit and sensibility of a gentleman; he kept sniveling and whining around us for a whole month after; and on the 8th of September, he had to tell him plainly that we did not want his company any longer. We preferred his room to his company. This pious talk made him angry: "Now," said he, "I will tell all your wickedness, your secret abominable acts -- your midnight doings -- for you are the worst, and most abominably corrupt people on the earth. You are not fit to live." Well, well, Sidney; fall down, and like Judas let your bowels burst out; and let the world see how much filth you have in you.
He now begins to recollect that he was to return immediately to Pittsburgh. He wanted the meeting to choose a guardian for the church to carry out the measures of Joseph Smith, appointed on Tuesday, the 6th of August, and was unwilling to wait for it till Thursday, the 8th, according to Elder Marks' testimony; for his domestic affairs very politely told by the unanimous vote of the whole community here on the 8th of August, that his services were not wanted as a leader, he could spend a whole month more trying to convince us of our mistake: This period gave us a full opportunity of proving him a false and wicked man. We then cut him off from the church; and for fear he should really get kicked out of company, he took up a line of march for Pittsburgh. He published in the St. Louis Organ that he was cut off from the
27church for the sole reason of wishing to go to Pittsburgh to live. This [is] a palpable falsehood, and Mr. Rigdon knew it to be false when he wrote it: for he received the unanimous vote of this people only one week before he was excommunicated, that he should return to Pittsburgh in peace. He was cut off for hypocrisy, dissimulation, and falsehood; and also for trying to divide the church: Thus violating his most solemn covenant to be subject to counsel, and treating the vote of this entire people with dishonor and contempt. He or his friends next published that he was cut off for opposing some kind of spiritual wife doctrine. His first edition of lies did not seem to answer: He must next accuse me of beseeching him not to make any disclosures about the spiritual wife doctrine. In answer to this, I will say: that as God is my judge, and as I wish or hope for salvation, such a petition was never addressed by me to Mr. Sidney Rigdon. I did caution him, however, on board the steam boat "May Flower" lying at St. Louis, to be cautious what words we wrote in this time of his excitement, lest he say things that he would afterwards be sorry for, and lay the foundation for a more bitter repentance at some future day. I might have also added, that his tyranny and oppression in Missouri; and conduct also little if any better than land piracy in connection with Robinson, his son-in-law, caused me to say and do things that I have ever since regretted. I considered that I had just cause for disaffection, but Mr. Rigdon had not, if we may believe his own words one week before he was cut off. "Brethren, you are the best and most blessed people on the earth." Will the best and most blessed people on the earth have spiritual wives, and tolerate adultery?
Mr. Rigdon's wicked heart and darkened mind could transform expressions flowing from the purest wishes for his welfare, into a desire to conceal crime, and hide my own shame. The Lord reward him for "making a man an offender for a word, and for laying a snare for him that reproveth in the gate."
During my absence to Palestine, the conduct of his daughter, Nancy, became so notorious in this city, according to common rumor, she was regarded generally, little if any better than a public prostitute. Joseph Smith knowing the conduct she was guilty of, felt anxious to reprove and reclaim her if possible. He, accordingly, requested my wife to invite her down to her house. He wished to speak with her and show her the impropriety of being gallanted about by so many different men, many of whom were comparatively strangers to her. Her own parents could look upon it, and think that all was right; being blind to the faults of their daughter. -- There being so many of this kind of men visiting Mr. Rigdon's house at the steamboat landing, (for he kept some sort of a tavern or boarding house,) that Mr. Smith did not care
28to go there to see her. Miss Nancy, I presume, considered her dignity highly insulted as the plain and sharp reproofs she received from this servant of God. She ran home and told her father that Mr. Smith wanted her for a spiritual wife, and that he employed my wife to assist him in obtaining her. This was a good time for Miss Nancy and John C. Bennett to wreak vengeance on the victim of their hatred for his severe admonitions. Mr. Bennett, I think, was a border at Mr. Rigdon's at that time, and I am told was all honey with the whole family. No one like Dr. John C. Bennett.
Mr. Rigdon also thought this was a good time to crush a member of the Johnson family, against which he had an old grudge, because Father Johnson, after giving him and his family a living for a long time, building a house for them to live in &c., would not give him his farm and all his property; for he once demanded of Father Johnson a deed of all his property without offering one dollar as an equivalent. Miss Nancy is made, therefore, to attribute to Joseph Smith and to my wife, language which neither of them ever used. Thus must an innocent and unsuspecting female suffer for putting down a hand to help, as it is verily believed, a poor miserable girl out of the very slough of prostitution.
Here is now a curious case before us. Mr. Rigdon testified here on Sunday, the 4th of August last, before some thousands of witnesses, that the same men who, he says, tried to seduce his daughter, is a true martyr, has ascended to heaven, and holds the keys of the kingdom. Mr. R. said also that God had revealed to him in Pittsburgh, that the kingdom must be built up to that same man who, he now says, tried to seduce his daughter. If one portion of Mr. Rigdon's testimony is true; and I feel to endorse it as truth: that Joseph holds the keys of the kingdom; I think he and Miss Nancy both will have rather hard work to get by him into the kingdom, inasmuch as they tell these hard stories about him. Shame on such miserable trash! I am sick, Mr. President, of dwelling upon such wicked inconsistencies. But as I have been appointed to deliver this address, I am resolved to endure to the end. Can you! (Cries of yes! yes!!)
Can Mr. Rigdon believe that Joseph Smith ever tried to seduce his daughter? Can he believe that he ever tried to get her for a spiritual wife? If he really believes this of Mr. Smith, how could he propose to build up the kingdom to him, unless he fellowshipped such abominable works? But if Mr. Smith had tried to get Miss Nancy for a carnal wife he might probably have been successful. I do not however think Mr. Rigdon believes any such thing of Joseph Smith. But because he was rejected as the leader of this people, he now seeks to destroy us by the most cruel slanders -- the most wicked misrepresentations and the foulest calumnies that ever proceeded from disappointed ambition. Those who were the
29most active in exposing his wicked designs, and in bringing them to light before this people, are the ones at whom his most poisonous arrows are directed. But envy and wrath will leave their own sting in the heart where they dwell.
I understand that Mr. Rigdon says that I have no character to lose. I should hope not in the estimation of such men as he. But were I guilty of lying in the name of the Lord as he is -- were I guilty of deception, hypocrisy, and dissimulation as he is, I should feel myself in the possession of a character that I never could lose, and one too, that I never ought to lose. Still Sidney says he will expose me, not only in America, but in Europe also. How much honor will he gain by exposing a man that has no character? If Sidney has no character, I would let him alone; but he has a character, and I want to show you its color. I hate to have him expose me; for a pole cat might stifle the perfume of a rose.
There is a wonderful revelation just come from John C. Bennet to Sidney Rigdon. It purports to be from God through Joseph Smith, and delivered into the hands of Bennet for safe keeping, until after Joseph's death. Then the seal was to be broken, and this wonderful revelation read. It is claimed that it was delivered to Bennet while he was in good standing in the church: so Bennet has kept the sacred charge -- did not break the seal when he was hunting up matter to write his book. No, he had too much respect for Joseph to disobey his word. It appoints Sidney Rigdon as prophet, holding the keys of conquest &c. Now saying nothing of the contradictions in this revelation, its very language does not sound like that of the good shepherd. It has Joseph's skin, but "Joab's" voice, one "General in Israel." "Imperial Primate and Viceroy," great swelling words of vanity. Joab stamped upon every sentence. I could much sooner believe that a ram's horn came though a gun barrel, than that revelation came through Joseph Smith. This however will answer Sidney's turn right well: for falsehood and deception must needs be fed upon falsehoods and deceptions; and in Sidney's fence, one crooked rail must spoon into another to keep the swine in and the sheep out.
But Mr. President, it may be urged that Sidney believes the Book of Mormon, Book of Doctrine and Covenants; and has never denied the faith. Is he not, therefore, entitled to some respect and sympathy; and should he not be considered? Yes, he should be considered in the very same light that the devil is. The devil never denied the faith. He believes and trembles just like Sidney Rigdon; and should he speak to-day of Christ, I have no doubt but that he would say as he said once before: "we know thee who thou art the holy one of God." But he considers they are very much out of the way in heaven -- that they have become very corrupt, and because they would not let him be leader, he dissented and came out from their wickedness, took the priesthood with him, and
30went down in the forks of perdition, among that sulphur, brimstone, fire, and smoke; and then turned round and cut them all off from the church in heaven. Poor things! how bad they must have felt.
At the time the devil was cast out of heaven, there were some spirits that did not know who had the authority, whether God or the devil. They consequently did not take a very active part on either side, but rather thought the devil had been abused, and considered he had rather the best claim to the government. These spirits were not considered bad enough to be cast down in hell, and never have bodies; neither were they considered worthy of an honorable body on this earth; but it came to pass that Ham, the son of Noah, saw the nakedness of his father while he lay drunk in his tent, and he with "wicked joy," ran like Rigdon, and made the wonderful disclosure to his brethren: while Shem and Japheth took a garment, with pity and compassion, laid it upon their shoulders -- went backwards and covered their father, and saw not his nakedness. The joy of the first was to expose; that of the second was to cover the unseemliness of their father. The conduct of the former brought the curse of slavery upon him, while that of the latter secured blessings, jurisdiction, power and dominion. Here was the beginning of blessing and cursing in the family of Noah, and here also is the cause of both. Canaan, the son of Ham, received the curse: for Noah wished to place the curse as remote from himself as possible. He therefore placed it upon his Grandson instead of his son. Now, it would seem cruel to force pure celestial spirits into the world through the lineage of Canaan that had been cursed. This would be ill appropriate, putting the precious and the vile together. But those spirits in heaven that rather lent an influence to the devil, thinking he had a little the best right to govern, but did not take a very active part any way, were required to come into the world and take bodies in the accursed lineage of Canaan; and hence the negro or African race. Now, therefore, all those who are halting concerning who has the right to govern had better look at the face of their brethren that have gone before them, and take warning in time lest they learn obedience by the things which they suffer. "Choose ye this day whom you will serve." These things are among the mysteries of the kingdom, and I have told them, not by constraint or by commandment, but by permission.
Many of the Rigdonites say that they will wait and see if Rigdon's revelations and prophecies prove true; if they do, then they will continue with Rigdon: but if they do not prove true, they will then leave him. This is equivalent to acknowledging that they have not the spirit of God; for if they had that spirit that leads into all truth, they would have no occasion to wait for Rigdon's prophecy to be fulfilled to
31know and understand the right way. In former days, men whose hearts were so corrupt that the spirit of God would not dwell in them, sought to know the truth by some external sign rather than by the spirit of God. This exposed their true character to the Savior, and he administered a suitable reproof to them, saying: "A wicked and an adulterous generation seek after a sign &c." Rigdon has sought by lies, by deceit, by hypocrisy and craft to turn this people away from the truth. Let him and his followers read their character and in the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy. Will they follow Rigdon after reading this? Yes, they will, until they meet the fate that God has ordained for them, be it what it may. -- Let the Saints also read this chapter and remember that God has sometimes suffered the words of a man, worthy of being stoned to death, to be fulfilled to test the fidelity of his people. Remember this.
Some of Rigdon's disciples that have come here since their endowment or conference at Pittsburgh, I understand, explain the reason why he said to the people here in August, that Joseph was a good man, and died approved of God, and that this people were a good people, in the following way. -- God gave Mr. Rigdon a lying spirit to come here and deceive this people for their iniquity: Oh dear! what a pity that the Saints here had more discernment than his God! We all knew he came here with a false and lying spirit, though he told some truth; still for this lying spirit, we cut him off from the church. What a pity his God was not prophet enough to forsee that we would detect this stratagem. And if Rigdon had known our iniquity so long, I should think that he, himself, would have known that his God was lying to him when he told him that Joseph was a true martyr, and that we, were a good people.
The laws of this church authorize the Twelve Apostles to preside over and regulate the affairs of the church in all the world where the first presidency are not.
Joseph and Hyrum were the senior members of the first presidency, and Sidney the junior member. A majority of this quorum could act for the church, but a minority could not, only to preside over the high council in the absence of both or either of the others: as Joseph and Hyrum are martyred and gone to heaven according to Mr. Rigdon's Pittsburgh visions; and as he is cut off from the church, the next quorum of authority is the Twelve Apostles who possess equal powers with the first three before named: and as they have power to regulate the church in all the world where the first presidency are not: of course they must regulate it in Nauvoo as well as every where else in the world: for the majority of the first presidency are gone out of the world, and the minority is gone out of the church to Pittsburgh by legal excommunication: therefore, of necessity the Twelve become
32the first presidency, allowing them to have received no special appointment to that station by Joseph Smith and Hyrum previous to their death: but they did receive this special and particular appointment by Joseph and Hyrum, and it was confirmed on their heads but two or three months before their martyrdom, and that too in the presence of many witnesses. This testimony was before the whole church at the time of Rigdon's trial and expulsion. What consistency or honesty, Mr. President, must there be in the man who accuses Jesus Christ and his apostles of all manner of crime and wickedness, and then preaches christianity and attempts to make the people believe it! Would he not justly incur the contempt and indignation of every consistent and reasonable man? -- Surely! Well, what consistency or honesty must there be in Sidney Rigdon in preaching up Mormonism after abusing Joseph Smith and others, and charging them with all manner of crime and wickedness? But Mr. Rigdon may now say that Joseph Smith was once a good man, but is fallen literally and spiritually, and cut off for his iniquity. That his life has been taken none will deny, and that Mr. R's course for the last few years has contributed to his murder, few persons in this place who know the history of the past in relation to this matter, will pretend to doubt. And in the day of judgment, if Mr. Rigdon's garments are not stained with innocent blood, it will be because I, with many others, am mistaken with regard to the influence that we suspect he has thrown on the side of those who are guilty of actual murder. But, that Mr. Smith was cut off for his sins, I shall take Mr. Rigdon's own revelation and vision from God (as he said) to prove to the contrary.
This gentleman said, when he first came here from Pittsburgh in August last, that God had revealed to him that Joseph Smith died a true and faithful martyr of Christ, that he was approved and accepted of God; that he had seen him in heaven on the right hand of the Son of God, holding the keys of the kingdom, and standing in the ranks of the revelators of God. He declared also that God had shown him in vision that the kingdom must be built up unto Joseph. Had Rigdon only given this as his opinion, he might have gone out of the net; but he has tied himself up in it with the strong cord of vision and revelation from God. If he shall attempt to deny this, he will only add another lie to the black list that already stands against him. Some of his own followers admit that they heard him make these statements upon the public stand. The question may now be asked: was Mr. Rigdon a true and sincere man then? If he was, he has established by his own evidence, the integrity, true martyrdom and immortality of Joseph Smith: but if he made up this testimony independent of God to ingratiate himself into our favor, he must have been conscious that he did not stand very high in our estimation
33upon his own merits; and should he not, therefore, have been cut off from the church for hypocrisy and lying in the name of the Lord?
Was Mr. Rigdon's object in bearing such a strong testimony in favor of a dead prophet, to confirm the faith of this people in the principles taught by him? If so, his object is accomplished; and if we have sinned in holding on to the faith of the saints, that sin be upon his head: for his own testimony in favor of the martyred prophet, and that since his death too, has nailed our faith to the mast head of the Mormon ship; and should we wreck on our passage, let the loss be charged to his account, for his signature has ensured the enterprize. But again, if Sidney was a true man when he came to us from Pittsburgh, he is false now: for he now testifies directly against that which he then declared God had given him by revelation. He now says that Joseph is with hypocrites and unbelievers. If he is true now, he was false then and we, of course, did right in cutting him off from the church: for he was found guilty of attempting to palm upon us a revelation which he said came from God: but we knew it came from himself. He told us some truths, however in order to gain our confidence that we might place him at the head of the church.
His tongue was smooth and oily, but we saw the rottenness of his heart. The serpent licks his victim and covers him with his poisonous saliva in order that he may swallow him with greater ease; so Mr. Rigdon attempted to cover us with flattery and soft things that he might swallow us without trouble; but our skins could not be mollified with his saliva; and when he found he could not swallow us, his next move was to pour out of his mouth a flood to destroy the woman, or church, whose man-child has been martyred and caught up to God and to his throne. But we trust through God's providence, the earth will help us; and while some of their prophecies may, perhaps, be fulfilled to blind their eyes, harden their hearts, and seal their damnation, we may find an asylum in some lone retreat or secret chamber until the indignation be over and past.
Now for the sake of argument, suppose we admit that the church is just as bad as Rigdon and other apostates represent: what does it prove? It proves that Rigdon and others have fellowshipped, and were willing to fellowship all this wickedness and say nothing about it, if they could only be promoted according to their wishes; but because they could not be head and leader, they turn round and reveal all the iniquity that they have previously fellowshipped; not for the love of purity or virtue, for if a love of virtue and purity had influenced them to make these awful disclosures, as they say, they would have done it before they were excluded from the church; but they do it for revenge to destroy the flower they could not pluck.
34Here then they are, not only guilty of having fellowshipped all the iniquity of which they accuse the saints, but have really added to themselves the cap sheaf of malice and revenge. -- They are therefore two or three degrees worse than those whom they accuse, besides proving to the world that they are traitors, and that integrity is a principle they never knew. Is it unreasonable however to believe, that if a man will really lie so abominably as Mr. Rigdon has, according to his own statements, and that in the name of the Lord too, in matters that are apparent to everybody; that he would lie in matters that are not so apparent, when he could make those lies the ministers of vengeance against those men who have thwarted his designs, and laid an embargo upon his wild and wicked ambition? Is it not reasonable, also, to conclude, that if the saints were really guilty of what they are accused by Rigdon and others, they would grant a man almost any station before they would provoke him to make these disclosures by cutting him off from the church? Those very mobbers of Missouri rejoice in his present course; -- they unite, heart and soul, also, with those who killed Joseph and Hyrum, and all agree that Rigdon is a good fellow. Now, what is the evidence that God is with Sidney? Why! MURDERERS HONOR HIM, AND PRAISE HIS LABORS!
Does Mr. Rigdon think that those mobbers and murderers have become converted, and are better men than they were when he used to fight and oppose them, as a reason why he and they now agree so well? Or has he fallen from his high station to their low and bloody standard? I leave you to determine. My opinion, however, is, that he has fallen into their good graces, that he has become their associate and correspondent, and is identified in their number here, and must consequently stand with murderers in the day when God shall judge every man in righteousness at his bar. I reason not thus for his sake, for we know his doom: But I reason thus for the sake of some who have been beguiled by his subtlety. He can gain no converts from the world. The charm of God's holy spirit is not in his proclamations. It will not melt the sinner's heart! No, it courts the disgust and contempt of all that are seeking God. He is dependent for his strength and numbers upon some excommunicated, disaffected, wavering, and half hearted members of this church. But those hearts in which the spirit of God or honesty dwells will soon see the error into which they have fallen and return to the church, as several already have, and have been re-baptized to wash away that apostate spirit received by the imposition of Rigdon's hands. Should any be disposed to cleave to him after the facts of the case are laid open to their view, let me tell you that a celestial spirit never dwelt in their earthly tabernacle; and any labor spent to bring them up to the light of a celestial paradise, would be equally useless with labor bestowed upon
35a rock in the bed of the ocean to raise it to the cap stone of Jehovah's temple. Therefore ye servants of God, cease your anxiety; and cease all your vanity and lightmindedness. Remember that God still lives -- that his spirit will bring to him all his chosen through much tribulation, sorrow and anguish occasioned by traitors and false brethren who go out from among us that it may be manifest that they are not of us. -- Remember that God knows his own and he will have them. The Devil also knows his own, and God will not rob him. -- Mr. Rigdon has most basely lied: he has slandered an innocent people. -- a people whose hearts are panting for life and immortality, a people whose hope and trust are in the living God, -- a people who hold the keys of his destiny, and will sit in judgment on his head: and now in conclusion: "Thou knewest me to be an austere man, reaping where I have not sown, and gathering where I have not strewed; out of thine own mouth therefore will I judge thee, thou wicked servant." Though he may boast of an accession to his numbers, yet I will say for his consolation, that he had better be cautious lest every soul whom his influence gains to his standard, shall become an additional stone around his neck to sink him deeper and deeper in the condemnation and wrath of Almighty God.
While, therefore, Rigdon and his followers are prating with malicious words against the servants of God -- while they are slandering the church which he has purchased with his own blood, -- and trying to raise a storm of persecution and extermination against the people that have been shielded by the life-blood of the martyred prophets -- while they slander the sleeping ashes of God's anointed ones, and try to tarnish the fair fame of him to whose talents they are indebted for all they know of God, by the smut of their apostacy: and in saying that he was cut off for his sins and is with hypocrites and unbelievers, -- who, when he was alive and could speak for himself, would never dare presume to whisper the first evil thought of him, from the fact that they had no reason or ground to do it. We will remain here and seek to fulfill the commandments of God, by building the Temple and Nauvoo House. We will try to honor God, and honor the memory of him who has laid down his life for us. His remains are still sleeping in the soil of Nauvoo; and though we see many yet weeping for his loss, we are comforted with the whispers of some kind spirit that breathes the following sentiment: --
Two or three thoughts more have occurred to me, Mr. President, which I will advance before I close. Did Joseph Smith abide in Christ until his death, or did he not? I answer; he did. Just before he delivered himself up. he went into Iowa, and thought first to make his escape through the Indian country which he could have easily effected; but on a second thought, he feared that if he did not give himself up, many of his brethren would have to suffer, and likely be murdered. -- He concluded therefore to give himself up to save the church from distress, let the consequences be to himself what they might. He has, therefore, proven that no man had greater love than he; for he laid down his life to save his friends. -- Time will show whether Mr. Rigdon will ever do this. It is my opinion however, that cowardice and the wisdom of this world will direct him a course to avoid the fate of the prophet, of Jesus Christ, and of the apostles. But in seeking to avoid their fate, time will determine how long he can keep out of a snare. We have seen that Joseph's love for his friends was perfect: and John the beloved disciple, said: "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, for God is love." In this love, and in this God, did Joseph and Hyrum Smith leave the world: are they with hypocrites and unbelievers? Shame on the treacherous villain that will prate against the man who has laid down his life for him!
Again, there were several men in Missouri and elsewhere that became angry with Joseph and the church, and were excluded in consequence of it; and that, too, by Rigdon's sanction at the time he now acknowledges Joseph to have been a good man. Now, to see these men flocking round Rigdon in full fellowship, with the same spirit and feeling for which they were excluded, and being raised by him to high stations, does not add much to the credit of his scheme. But birds of a feather will flock together, and Rigdon seems to be a vessel to cast most of that which the Mormons spew out.
But after all, they cannot agree among themselves. Iron and clay will not stick together, neither will they. One will think this way and another that way; and so with all who are cut off. They are unstable, and like chaff driven before the wind. They have forsaken Zion and are building up Babylon, but God has confounded them.
Now, Mr. President, I will leave the subject with this assembly. I feel that I have discharged my duty before my God, and that my garments are clear in his sight; and should you conclude that my remarks can subserve the cause of truth and the interests of God's people, they are at your service; and I hope they may be instrumental of good unto the church at large, and a deliverance unto bewildered souls. May God bless and save his people! Amen.
JOURNAL HISTORY OF THE CHURCH:
St. Louis, Sept. 12, 1844.Dear Brethren, We arrived here yesterday all well. Elder Rigdon said that he never felt happier, but his happiness appeared to me like the blaze from shavings lively and brilliant, but of short duration.
I do not think he intends to publish so much as he talked of. "He said here to Bro. Small that to tell the truth, it is not necessary to build the temple" for said he, "if the temple is built the Twelve have no power to administer the endowment."
He said to Bro. Small, that Emma came to him on the morning of his leaving and told him that it was her intention to go with him and that the new translation and other important and sacred things, she should deliver up to him.
Clapp, a merchant on Main Street came down with us. He appeared to side with Elder Rigdon. He seemed to me to be a snake in the grass. There is no dependence to be placed in him in my opinion. The brethren here appeared all warm for the Twelve. I sent on an appointment by Elder Hollister to Cincinatti for Sunday Week. Next Sunday I preach here. It was a very swift boat on which Elder Hollister went out on, this morning; but Elder Rigdon did not go out on it for the berths were all engaged. He has gone to a very slow boat that will go out this evening or tomorrow.
I sent on letters to Pittsburg by Elder Hollister. I preached in town last evening and a very good feeling prevailed. I sent down to the boat and invited Elder Rigdon to attend but he did not leave the boat, was sick with the dioarhea and vomited most of the night, so he told me. I shall leave no stone unturned in doing my duty. May God protect you from the mobs and writs. A man on the "Osprey" wrote to the Governor in your behalf. I instructed him what to say and he said it. But keep this to yourself.
The "Osprey" broke her shaft. This delayed our journey about six hours. All is right at Quincy. They are for the temple, the Twelve and for God. They are all right so far as I can hear from all quarters. I shall write to the "Prophet," N. Y. soon.
Elder Rigdon told Bro. Small that he had organized the "School of the Prophets" in Nauvoo and left them to carry on the work there and he was going to Pittsburg to carry on the work there. Bro. Small is all right. Elder Rigdon's excommunication from the Church was all over town when we arrived here. The news went by the birds perhaps.
However many here were expecting that that would be the result with him. There is tithing here that I shall gather on my return. [Closing] in haste (more soon) O[rson]. Hyde.
Elder Rigdon told me in a conversation with him in this place, that he had never come out against Joseph heretofore for Joseph's own sake; yet he said that he had corresponded with the great men of the state and was in possession of facts and power to have hurled Joseph from his station long ago.
That he has corresponded with mobocrats in Illinois, I have no doubt. But that he ever had power to hurl Joseph from his station, I no more believe than I believe Lucifer ever had power to hurl Jehovah from his throne.
Your brother,St. Louis, Sept. 16, 1844.
Note 1: The editors of the LDS "Journal History" perhaps abridged Apostle Hyde's correspondence to the leaders in Nauvoo. Richard Van Wagoner, in his 1994 Sidney Rigdon A Portrait of Religious Excess, p. 359, gives this excerpt from Hyde's letter of Sept. 1th: "as a friend... I indulged the hope that he [i. e., Sidney Rigdon] would see the error into which he had fallen, and ere long retrace his steps... 'be careful how you put pen to paper in this time of your excitement... wait a few months and then see how you will feel'..." [but Rigdon replied that] "his course was marked out before him and that he should pursue it... that he never felt happier. [However, according to Hyde, the man's] "happiness appeared to me like the blaze from shavings -- lively and brilliant, but of short duration..." Mr. Van Wagoner cites as the original source, Orson Hyde's Sep. 12, 1844, letter to "Dear Brethren," [i. e., Brigham Young and the Council of 12 Apostles] in the Brigham Young Collection, Box 39, folder 18, at the LDS Church Archives. However, only the final clause is from that source, in the form it was copied into the "Journal History." Van Wagoner prefaces his Sept. 12th quotation with some uncited words actually taken from Hyde's Sep. 17 letter to the St. Louis People's Organ. Given this external source, it appears equally likely that the LDS editors did not shorten Hyde's letter, for inclusion in the "Journal History."
Note 2: In a subsequent (Sept. 16th) letter (original also in Brigham Young Collection, Box 39, folder 18) Orson Hyde wrote to Brigham Young, saying that Rigdon claimed in St. Louis to be "in possession of facts and power [sufficient] to have hurled Joseph from his station long ago." (See transcript from "Journal History, above) It is doubtful that Rigdon was speaking merely of Mormon secrets regarding polygamy, the Council of Fifty, or recent political intrigues in Illinois. His reference to "long ago" appears to place the context of the "facts" he claimed to possess against Smith, somewhere among the early days of the Church. Perhaps Rigdon was making a subtle reference to secrets concerning Book of Mormon authorship.
Note 3: The "Bro. Small" mentioned by Apostle Hyde was Elder William Small, then the St. Louis Branch President and later an apostle in Rigdon's Pittsburgh church. Small apparently conveyed some of Rigdon's words directly to Hyde, only later choosing to break his ties with the Twelve and join Rigdon in Pennsylvania. Elder Small was the first convert of the Philadelphia branch and briefly served as the Presiding Elder at Pittsburgh, under Apostle John E. Page. The merchant "Clapp," who accompanied Hyde to Pittsburgh may have served as a middleman in bringing St. Louis merchant James Jeffery into Rigdon's company while the excommunicated Mormon leader was in the city. Apostle John Taylor in his Nauvoo journal entry for June 23rd, 1845, mentions Clapp as one of the "men not belonging to the Church." Possibly he was the brother of LDS Church member Benjamin L. Clapp. Forty years later Jeffery would claim in the pages of the Presbyterian Banner that Rigdon had betrayed to him certain Mormon secrets concerning the Solomon Spalding authorship of the Book of Mormon.
Note 4: According to Clark Braden (speaking in 1884),"Dr. Silas Sheppard, some time after his return to Pennsylvania from Nauvoo, in response to Dr. Sheppard's request that he would now, since he had, as he declared to Dr. Sheppard, renounced all connection with Mormonism forever, tell him, Dr. Sheppard, the truth, in regard to the Book of Mormon; Rigdon replied, 'Dr. Sheppard, my mouth is forever sealed on that subject.'" Dr. Sheppard's claim -- that Rigdon had at one point "renounced" his profession of Mormonism -- is confirmed by a report in the NYC Prophet of 1844, where the editor stated: "while in Missouri, he [Rigdon] stood up and cursed God to his face and pronounced Mormonism to be a delusion." The Nauvoo Times and Seasons of Nov.1, 1844 reported Rigdon's recent threat, "to turn traitor" against the LDS establishment. Sidney Rigdon's reported 1844 renunciation of Mormonism was evidently a short-lived phenomenon, for news of this important development did not make it into the contemporary Gentile newspapers. Quite possibly, Rigdon's brief renunciation and his intreviews with James Jeffery coincided, during mid-September, 1844.
Note 5: On page 324 of his 1994 book, Van Wagoner accuses Apostle Orson Hyde of being the Twelve's "de facto agent of disinformation" and of taking "particular pleasure in attacking Rigdon's reputation." According to Van Wagoner, much of the top LDS leaders' portrayal of Rigdon's last years within the Church consisted of highly distorted or downright falsified "disinformation." This pattern of portraying known falsehood as unmitigated truth, in the case of Elder Sidney Rigdon, was apparently merely part of a larger effort by those same leaders to hide the practice of Mormon polygamy and to discredit Rigdon's early exposure of that secret religious practice at Nauvoo.
view in original context
T H E R E T U R N.
"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again: The eternal years of God are hers."
Vol. 2. No. 4. DAVIS CITY, IOWA, APRIL, 1890. Whole No. 16.
Note 1: The above letter by Orson Hyde was apparently written while Hyde was journeying from St. Louis to Cincinnatti. Hyde must have hoped that Robinson would break away from Rigdon's followers at Pittsburgh and bring a substantial portion of that branch back under the control of the Twelve at Nauvoo. Robinson subsequently traveled to the Cincinnatti area to obtain printing equipment and had occasion to inform Hyde of his continuing loyalty to Sidney Rigdon.