Wm. Smith. Surely the Lord will do nothing, but he revealeth his
secret unto his servants the Prophets -- Amos, 3:7. Editor.
Vol. 1. No. 23.
New-York, October 19, 1844.
( For the Prophet. )
Salem, Oct. 11th, 1844.
To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Greeting:--
I deem it to be a duty which I owe to God and his Church to express my feelings and bear my testimony unto you,
concerning certain things that are presented to you for your consideration; especially, the claims of Elder Sidney
Rigdon to the exclusive right to lead and govern the church of Latter Day Saints. I have carefully examined the trial
which Elder Rigdon has had before the authorities of the church in Nauvoo, as given in the Times and Seasons, Vol. V.
No. 17, and I am satisfied that a righteous decision has been given in his case. I do not make these remarks without
my reasons: and I will hereby give those reasons.
I will commence by asking where has Elder Rigdon been since he made his flaming speech in Far West, which had a tendency to bring persecution upon the whole church especially the head of it? Has he stood by the side of the Prophet and Patriarch as a true friend, to assist in carrying them through their trials, tribulations and persecutions? Has he walked up into his place as a man of God, and stood beside the Prophet as his counsellor [counselor]? Has he walked up into his place as a man of God, and stood beside the Prophet as his counsellor [counselor]? Has he, in any way, been a pillar or support to the church from that day until this? Has he sustained the cause and used an influence to spread the work abroad since the persecution in Far West? Has he in any way sustained the priesthood with dignity and honor, for the last five years of his life? Or, has the Prophet, in any point of view, leaned upon him as a counsellor [counselor], a staff, or support, for the last five years? Or has the Prophet Joseph found Elder Rigdon in his councils when he organized the quorum of the Twelve, a few months before his death, to prepare them for the endowment? And when they received their endowment, and actually received the keys of the kingdom of God, and oracles of God, keys of revelation, and the pattern of heavenly things; and thus addressing the Twelve, exclaimed, "upon your shoulders the kingdom rests, and you must round up your shoulders, and bear it; for I have had to do it until now. But now the responsibility rests upon you. It mattereth not what becomes of me." I say, has this been the case with Elder Rigdon, in any wise? No, no, verily no; but the reverse, until he had become like a millstone upon the back of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. And I hereby bear my testimony that I heard the said Joseph Smith declare that Elder Rigdon had become like a millstone upon his back -a dead weight-and he had carried him long enough, and must throw him off. And in my hearing requested one of the quorum of the Twelve to bring him up before the church that he might be dealt with according to the law of the church, that he might be cut off as a dead branch, and no longer encumber the tree, as there was sufficient testimony against him. But through the pleadings of Brother Hyrum Smith and others, he has been spared. Elder Brigham Young has been his friend-spoke in his favor, in consequence of his age and former standing, hoping that he might reform, get the spirit of the work, and magnify his calling. Upon this principle he has been sustained long, until the branch became twice dead, and necessary to be severed from the tree. Elder Rigdon, for the last five years of his life, has mostly been shut up in the post-office; confined himself mostly to his own temporal affairs, manifesting but little interest in the affairs of the church and when any alarm or report was in circulation unfavorable to the cause if we could judge at all from the course he pursued it had a tendency to increase trouble and disturbance, instead of decreasing it. It is true, that Elder Rigdon attended some of the councils that President Smith held with the Twelve and others, before his death, while giving them instructions; but I heard President Smith say, that he came in without his wish or invitation, as he had no confidence in him.
Elder Rigdon and his friends would now claim, before the church and
the world, that he holds the keys of the kingdom of God of the last
dispensation, above the Twelve, the Church, etc. I am ready to admit
before the whole church and the world, that he does hold one key beyond
the Twelve; one, that they do not hold, one that God never held, nor Jesus
Christ, not any true prophet, patriarch, or apostle: Joseph and Hyrum
Smith were utter strangers to it. And if we can judge from his own mouth,
according to the testimony given on his trial, we would suppose that
Lucifer, who made war in Heaven, was its author; and that it had been
handed down unto the present day, and with it Elder Rigdon has unlocked
his heart, and portrayed before our eyes what was in it. What is it? Hear
it, all ye Latter Day Saints! Listen, O Earth! and judge the fruits of
this Key. He threatens to turn traitor, publish against the church in
public journals, intimating that he would bring a mob upon the church,
stir up the world against the Saints, and bring distress upon them, etc.
This ought to be a sufficient reason for any true hearted Latter Day Saint
to turn away from him with disgust, and treat all such men and principles
according to their desert, which is, to let them entirely alone; for there
is not a more despicable principle ever existed in Heaven, Earth, or Hell,
than to prove a traitor to our God, our cause, and our friends, and bring
distress upon the innocent, and that too by turning against the very cause
that a man has spent a portion of his life to build up, and declared,
while in the faith, that it was true and righteous; for in all such cases
there is entirely a misrepresentation of truth and facts, in order to
accomplish the intended evil, while a true statement of facts would
advance the cause. This same principle was manifest in the case of
Lucifer, Judas, Arnold, and many apostates in this church, who, when they
could not get their own ends answered, would threaten to bring mobs upon
the church, and in some instances, have done so. I would ask, has Joseph
or Hyrum Smith ever held such a key as this, or manifested such a spirit
as this? No, never; but have despised it in their hearts. President Smith
seemed to be sensible that such fruit was growing in the breast of Elder
Rigdon; and if he had accomplished what duty appeared to present to his
mind upon that subject, that branch would have been severed from the tree
before his death; but through mercy it was spared until it has
produced fruit which is evil in its tendency, and dangerous to the welfare
and prosperity of the Church and Kingdom of God.
I would again ask, has Elder Brigham Young ever manifested any knowledge of the key above spoken of, or any spirit or disposition to turn against the church in any time of trial and persecution from its commencement? Has he ever deserted Joseph, Hyrum, his brethren, or the cause, in one instance, since the foundation of this church? No, never, in one instance.-He has always been ready to go and come at the bidding of the Lord. He has not said go; but he has always said come. He has set the example and led the way, until he has traversed sea and land, at home and abroad, native and foreign countries, until he has borne [born] off the keys of the kingdom of God in connection with the Twelve, with honor and dignity, since they were committed to his charge. He has followed President Smith's footsteps closely for the last twelve years of his life, and especially the last five years; while Elder Rigdon has, at the same time, been confined to the post-office, apparently manifesting no interest in the welfare of the church and building up of the cause. The spirit of wisdom and counsel has manifested itself in the course and deliberations of Elder Young. He has not only had much experience with President Smith, but he has proved himself true and faithful in all things committed to his charge, until he was called to hold the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world, in connection with the Twelve: was the first to receive his endowment, from under the hands of the Prophet and Patriarch, who have leaned upon him in connection with the Twelve, for years, to bear off this kingdom in all the world, in connection with the Twelve: was the first to receive his endowment, from under the hands of the Prophet and Patriarch, who have leaned upon him in connection with the Twelve, for years, to bear off this kingdom in all the world. And they have done it with honor, laboring both day and night, making every sacrifice required of them; leaving their homes, families, and country, to establish the work of God, and lay the foundation for the deliverance and redemption of Israel. And I can say with every sentiment of my heart, and feeling of my soul, as has President Young, "that if there are but ten men left who hang on to the truth, to Joseph and the temple, and are willing to do right in all things, let me be one of that number." If it cost me my life to defend the truth of the everlasting gospel of the Son of God, and to build upon the great and mighty foundation which God has laid in this last dispensation and fulness [fullness] of times, through the instrumentality of his servant Joseph, the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, for the pruning of the vineyard once more, for the last time, for the warning of the Gentiles, for the salvation of the honest in heart and meek of the earth, the building up of Zion, the establishment of Jerusalem, the final deliverance of Israel, and to prepare the saints for the hour of judgment which is to come, and to secure unto the righteous and exaltation of glory beyond the veil-I say, if it cost me my life, let it go: I want to be among the number; I am ready to follow the example of those who have gone before me-when my work is done, I am ready to be offered, if necessary. I had rather see ten men seal a righteous
testimony with their blood, than to see one man turn traitor, shed innocent blood, and damn his own soul-for the object in living and laboring in the cause of God is to secure a part in the first resurrection, eternal life, and immortal glory. A religion that is not worth maintaining at the expense of life, is not worth having, "for he that will lose his life for my sake, the same shall find it." And again, "I will prove you, whether you will abide in my covenant, even unto death, saith the Lord." Many of the patriarchs, prophets, Jesus, the apostles, David, Joseph, and Hyrum, and many others, have sealed their testimony with their blood.
Shall we then, as elders of Israel, or Latter-day Saints, back out, fear and tremble, or give up the work, because Elder Rigdon threatens to turn traitor or bring mobs upon us, because he cannot make the church bow to his notion of things? No, God forbid. It shows very clearly that he has not the spirit of Christ, for the Lord nor one of his followers ever did such a thing; and it is sufficient to open the mind of every saint to see where he stands. As far as my faith, prayers, influence and labor, will effect any thing, they will go to sustain President Young, and in connection with him, the quorum of the Twelve, in holding the keys of the kingdom of God, as they have been delivered unto them by the revelation of Jesus Christ, and in the endowments they have received under the hands of the Prophet Joseph, and also all the quorums of the church and kingdom of God in these last days, through the voice of the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, who has been raised up and laid the foundation, and sealed his testimony with his blood.
And I wish to say to all the Elders of Israel, and Saints of God,
that the time has come, when we need a double portion of the spirit of
Joseph's God to rest upon us, we should gird up the loins of our minds.
Watch and be sober, maintain the priesthood with dignity, have the cause
of God fully at heart, labor faithfully for its promotion while the day
lasts, for night will soon come when no man can work. We should practice
virtue and holiness before the Lord, and shun the very appearance of evil.
We should enter into our closets, and call upon God for wisdom to direct
us in every duty in life. Our object should be to preach the Gospel of
Jesus Christ to this generation, and present those principles that will
save the souls of men.
If there is any man in this church that does wrong, that breaks the
law of God, it mattereth not what his standing may be, whether among the
Twelve, the High Priests, Seventies, or Elders, or in any other standing,
there is a tribunal that will reach their case in process of time, there
is authority before whom they can be tried. Therefore let no one turn
against the cause of God, and stop in the road to destruction, on the plea
that somebody has done wrong: It is no excuse for you or I to do wrong
because another does; the soul that sins alone must bear it. Should I step
aside from the path of duty it would not destroy the Gospel of Jesus
Christ, or even one principle of truth, they would remain the same.
Neither would it be any excuse for you to commit sin; but I should have to
bear my own sins, and not the sins of others, so with all men.
Therefore, let me exhort all ye Elders of Israel and Saints of God to
rise up in the majesty and dignity of your calling, make full proof of
your ministry and covenant. Sustain by your works the authorities, keys,
and priesthood of God in all its bearings and appendages, through this
last dispensation, for the eyes of God, angels and men, are over you, and
when the work is finished, you will receive your just recompense of