1836

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John Whitmer-Address in the Messenger and Advocate

Kirtland, Ohio, March 27th 1836.

Previous notice having been given, the Church of the Latter Day Saints met this day in the House of the Lord to dedicate it to him. The congregation began to assemble before 8 o'clock A.M. and thronged the doors until 9, when the Presidents of the church who assisted in seating the congregation, were reluctantly compelled to order the door keepers to close the doors; every seat and aisle were crowded.—One thousand persons were now silently and solemnly waiting to hear the word of the Lord from the mouth of his servants in the sacred desk. President S. Rigdon began the services of the day, by reading the 96th and 24th Psalms. An excellent choir of singers, led by M.C. Davis sung the following Hymn:

Tune—Sterling.

Ere long the vail will rend in twain,

The King descend with all his train;

The earth shall shake with awful fright,

And all creation feel his might.

The trump of God, it long shall sound,

And raise the nations under ground;

Throughout the vast domain of heav'n

The voice echoes, the sound is given.

Lift up your heads ye saints in peace,

The Savior comes for your release;

The day of the redeem'd has come,

The saints shall all be welcom'd home.

Behold the church, it soars on high,

To meet the saints amid the sky;

To hail the King in clouds of fire,

And strike and tune th' immortal lyre.

Hosanna now the trump shall sound,

Proclaim the joys of heav'n around,

When all the saints together join,

In songs of love, and all divine.

With Enoch here we all shall meet,

And worship at Messiah's feet,

Unite our hands and hearts in love,

And reign on thrones with Christ above.

The city that was seen of old

Whose walls were jasper, and streets gold

We'll now inherit thron'd in might:

The Father and the Son's delight.

Celestial crowns we shall receive,

And glories great our God shall give,

While loud hosannas we'll proclaim,

And sound aloud the Saviors name.

Our hearts and tongues all joined in one,

A loud hosanna to proclaim,

While all the heav'ns shall shout again,

And all creation say, Amen.

President Rigdon then in an able, devout and appropriate manner, addressed the throne of Grace. The following Hymn was then sung:

Tune Weymouth.

O happy souls who pray

Where God appoints to hear?

O happy saints who pay

Their constant service there!

We praise him still;

And happy we;

We love the way

To Zion's hill.

No burning heats by day,

Nor blasts of evening air,

Shall take our health away,

If God be with us there:

He is our sun,

And he our shade,

To guard the head

By night or noon.

God is the only Lord,

Our shield and our defence;

With gifts his hand is stor'd:

We draw our blessings thence.

He will bestow

On Jacobs race,

Pecular grace,

And glory too

The speaker (S. Rigdon,) selected the 8th chapter of Matthew, the 18, 19 and 20th verses from which, he proposed to address the congregation, continuing himself more closely to the 20th verse—He spoke two hours and a half in his usual, forcible and logical manner. At one time in the course of his remarks he was rather pathetic, than otherwise, which drew tears from many eyes. He was then taking a retrospective view of the toils, privations and anxieties of those who had labored upon the walls of the house to erect them. And added, there were those who had wet them with their tears, in the silent shades of night, while they were praying to the God of heaven, to protect them, and stay the unhallowed hands of ruthless spoilers, who had uttered a prophecy when the foundation was laid, that the walls would never be reared. This was only a short digression from the main thread of his discourse, which he soon resumed.

Here it may be not improper to give a synopsis of the discourse for the satisfaction of our readers who were not privileged as we were with hearing it. The speaker assumed as a postulate, what we presume no one was disposed to deny, (viz:) that in the days of the Savior there were Synagogues, where the Jews worshipped God, and in addition to them, the splendid Temple at jerusalem. Yet, when on a certain occasion, one proposed to follow him whithersoever he went, he though heir of all things cried out like on in the bitterness of his soul in abject poverty, The Foxes have holes, &c. This, said the speaker, was evidence to his mind, that the Most High did not put his name there, and that he did not accept the worship of those who payed their vows and adorations there. This was evident from the fact that they would not receive him, but thrust him from them, saying, away with him, crucify him! crucify him! It was therefore abundantly evident that his spirit did not dwell in them. They were the degenerate sons of noble sires: but they had long since slain the Prophets and Seers through whom the Lord revealed himself to the children of men. They were not led by revelation, This, said the speaker, was the grand difficulty among them. Their unbelieve in present revelation. He further remarked, that, their unbelief in present revelation was the means of dividing that generation into the various sects and parties that existed. They were sincere worshipers, but their worship was not required of them, nor was it acceptable to God.—The Redeemer himself who knew the hearts of all men, called them generation of vipers. It was proof positive to his mind, that there being Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians and Essens, and all differing from each other, that they were led by the precepts and commandments of men. Each had something peculiar to himself. But all agreed in one point, (viz:) to oppose the Redeemer. So that we discover he would with the utmost propriety, exclaim, notwithstanding their synagogue and Temple worship, The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. He took occasion here to remark that such diversity of sentiment ever had, and ever would obtain when people were not led by present revelation. This brought him to the inevitable conclusion that the various sects of the present day, from their manifesting the same spirit, rested under the same condemnation with those who were coeval with the Savior. He admitted there were many houses; many sufficiently great, built for the worship of God, but not one except his, on the face of the whole earth, that was built by divine revelation, and were it not for this, the dear Redeemer might in this day of science, this day of intelligence, this day of religion, say to those who would follow him, The foxes have holes, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

Here his whole should appeared to be fired with his subject. Arguments, strong and conclusive seemed almost to vie with each other for utterance. Indeed, there was no sophistry in his reasoning, no plausible hypothesis on which the whole rested, but on the contrary plain scripture facts. Therefore his deductions and inferences were logical and conclusive.

The comparison drawn between the different religious sects of ancient and modern times, was perfectly natural, and simple yet it was done in that confident, masterly manner, accompanied with those incontrovertable proofs of his position, that was directly calculated to cheer and gladden the hearts of the Saints, but to draw down the indignation of the sectarian world upon him and we have no doubt had our speaker uttered the same sentiments, with the same proof of their correctness, had there been those present that we might name, his voice would doubtless have been drowned as was that of the ancient apostle in the Athenian Temple, when his auditors cried incessantly for about two hours "Great is Diana of the Ephesians."

But to conclude, we can truly say no one unacquainted with the manner of delivery and style of our speaker can, from reading form any adequate idea of the powerful effect he is capable of producing in the minds of his hearers." And to say on this occasion he showed himself mater of his subject and did well, would be doing him injustice; to say he acquitted himself with honor or did very well, would be detracting from him real merit; and to say that he did exceeding well; would be only halting praise.

After closing his discourse he presented Joseph Smith jr. to the church as a Prophet and Seer. The Presidents of the church then all in their seats, acknowledged him as such by rising. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative.

The question was then put, and carried without a manifest dissenting sentiment to each of the different grades or quorums of church officers respectively and then to the congregation. The following hymn was then sung:

Tune—Hosanna.

Now let us rejoice in the day of salvation,

No longer as strangers on earth need we roam;

Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation,

And shortly the hour of redemption will come;

When all that was promis'd the saints will

be given,

And none will molest them from morn until

even,

And earth will appear as the garden of Eden,

And Jesus will say to all Israel: Come home!

We'll love one another and never dissemble,

But cease to do evil and ever be one;

And while the unGodly are fearing and tremble.

We'll watch for the day when the Savior

shall come:

When all that was promis'd the saints will

be given,

And none will molest them from morn until

even,

And earth will appear as the garden of Eden,

And Jesus will say to all Israel: Come home!

In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah,

To guide through these last days of trouble

and gloom:

And after the scourges and harvest are over,

We'll rise with the just, when the Savior

doth come:

Then all that was promis'd the saints will

be given,

And they will be crown'd as the angel of

heaven:

And earth will appear as the garden of Eden,

And Christ and his people will ever be one.

Services closed for the forenoon.

Intermission was about 15 minutes during which none left their seats except a few females, who from having left their infants with their friends, were compelled to do so to take care of them. The P.M. services commenced by singing the following hymn:

Tune Adam-ondi-Ahman.

This earth was once a garden place.

With all her glories common;

And men did live a holy race,

And worship Jesus face to face,

In Adam-ondi-Ahman.

We read that Enoch walk'd with God,

Above the power of Mammon:

While Zion spread herself abroad,

And saints and angels sung aloud,

In Adam ondi-Ahman.

Her land was good and greatly blest,

Beyond old Israel's Canaan:

Her fame was known from east to west:

Her peace was great, and pure the rest

Of Adam-ondi-Ahman.

Hosanna to such days to come

The Savior's second comin'—

When all the earth in glorious bloom,

Affords the saints a holy home

Like Adam-ondi-Ahman.

President J. Smith jr. then rose, and after a few preliminary remarks, presented the several Presidents of the church, then present, to the several quorums respectively, and then to the church as being equal with himself, acknowledging them to be Prophets and Seers. The vote was unanimous in the affirmative in every instance.—Each of the different quorums was presented in its turn to all the rest, and then to the church, and received and acknowledged by all the rest, in their several stations without a manifest dissenting sentiment.

President J. Smith jr. then addressed the congregation in a manner calculated to instruct the understanding, rather than please the ear, and at or about the close of his remarks, he prophesied to all that inasmuch as they would uphold these men in their several stations, alluding to the different quorums in the church, the Lord would bless them; yea, in the name of Christ, the blessings of Heaven shall be yours. And when the Lord's anointed go forth to proclaim the word, bearing testimony to this generation, if they receive it, they shall be blessed, but if not, the judgments of God will follow close upon them, until that city of that house, that rejects them, shall be left desolate. The following hymn was then sung:

Tune Dalston.

How pleased and blest was I,

To hear the people cry,

"Come, let us seek our God to-day!"

Yes, with a cheerful zeal,

We'll haste to Zion's hill,

And there our vows and honors pay.

Zion thrice happy place,

Adorn'd with wondrous grace,

And walls of strength embrace the round!

In thee our tribes appear,

To pray, and praise, and hear

The sacred gospel's joyful sound.

There David's greater Son

Has fix'd his royal throne:

He sits for grace and judgment there:

He bids the saint be glad,

He makes the sinner sad,

And humble souls rejoice with fear.

May peace attend thy gate,

And joy within thee wait,

To bless the soul of every guest:

The man that seeks thy peace,

And wishes thine increase,

A thousand blessings on him rest!

My tongue repeats her vows,

"Pease to this sacred house!

For here my friends and kindred dwells?

And since my glorious God

Makes thee his blest abode,

My soul shall ever love thee well.

He then offered the dedication prayer, which was as follows:

Thanks be to thy name, O Lord God of Israel, who keepest covenant and shewest mercy unto thy servants, who walk uprightly before thee with all their hearts: thou who hast commanded they servants to build an house to thy name in this place. (Kirtland.) And now thou beholdest, O Lord, that so thy servants have done, according to thy commandment. And now we ask thee, holy Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of thy bosom, in whose name alone salvation can be administered to the children of men: we ask thee, O lord, to accept of this house, the workmanship of the hands of us, thy servants, which thou didst command us to build; for thou knowest that we have done this work through great tribulation: and out of our poverty we have given of our substance to build a house to thy name, that the Son of Man might have a place to manifest himself to his people.

And as thou has said, in a revelation given unto us, calling us thy friends, saying "Call your solemn assembly, as I have commanded you; and as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom: Seek learning, even by study, and also by faith.

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing, and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory a house of order, a house of God: that your in comings may be in the name of the Lord; that your out goings may be in the name of the Lord: that all your salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with uplifted hands to the Most High."

And now, holy Father, we ask thee to assist us, thy people with thy grace in calling our solemn assembly, that it may be done to thy honor, and to thy divine acceptance, and in a manner that we may be found worthy, in thy sight, to secure a fulfilment of the promises which thou hast made unto us thy people, in the revelations given unto us: that thy glory may rest down upon thy people, and upon this thy house which we now dedicate to thee, that it may be sanctified and consecrated to be holy, and that thy holy presence may be continually in this house; ant that all people who shall enter upon the threshhold of the Lord's house may feel thy power and be constrained to acknowledge that thou hast sanctified it, and that it is thy house, a place of thy holiness.

And do thou grant, holy Father, that all those who shall worship in this house, may be taught words of wisdom out of the best books, and that they may seek learning, even by study, and also by faith; as thou hast said; and that they may grow up in thee and receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and be organized according to thy laws, and be prepared to obtain every needful thing: and that this house may be a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of glory, and of God, even thy house: that all the incomings of thy people, into this house, may be in the name of the Lord; that all their outgoings, from this house, may be in the name of the Lord; that all their salutations may be in the name of the Lord, with holy hands, uplifted to the Most High; and that no unclean thing shall be permitted to come into thy house to pollute it.

And when thy people transgress, any of them, they may speedily repent and return unto thee, and find favor in thy sight, and be restored to the blessings which thou hast ordained, to be poured out upon those who shall reverence thee in this thy house.

And we ask thee, holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house, armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them; and from this place they may bear exceeding great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hands, to fulfil that which thou has spoken by the mouths of thy prophets concerning the last days.

We ask thee, holy Father, to establish the people that shall worship and honorable hold a name and standing in this thy house, to all generations, and for eternity, that no weapon formed against them shall prosper; that he who diggeth a pit for them shall fall into the same himself; that no combination of wickedness shall have power to rise up and prevail over thy people, upon whom thy name shall be put in this house: and if any people shall rise against this people, that thine anger be kindled against them: and if they shall smite this people, thou wilt smite them thou wilt fight for thy people as thou didst in the day of battle, that they may be delivered from the hands of all their enemies.

We ask thee, holy Father, to confound, and astonish, and bring to shame, and confusion, all those who have spread lying reports abroad over the world against thy servant, or servants, if they will not repent when the everlasting gospel shall be proclaimed in their ears, and that all their works may be brought to nought, and be swept away by the hail, and by the judgments, which thou wilt sent upon them in thine anger, that there may be an end to lyings and slanders against thy people: for thou knowest, O Lord, that thy servants have been innocent before thee in bearing record of thy name for which they have suffered these things; therefore we plead before thee for a full and complete deliverance from under this yoke. Break it off O Lord: break if off from the necks of thy servants, by thy power, that we may rise up in the midst of this generation and do thy work!

O Jehovah, have mercy upon this people, and as all men sin, forgive the transgressions of thy people, and let them be blotted out forever. Let the anointing of thy ministers be sealed upon them with power from on high: let it be fulfilled upon them as upon those on the day of Pentecost: let the gift of tongues be poured out upon thy people, even cloven tongues as of fire, and the interpretation thereof. And let thy house be filled, as with a rushing mighty wind, with thy glory.

Put upon thy servants the testimony of the covenant, that when they go out and proclaim thy word, they may seal upon the law, and prepare the hearts of thy saints for all those judgements thou art about to send, in thy wrath, upon the inhabitants of the earth, because of their transgressions, that thy people may not faint in the day of trouble.

And whatever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive their testimony, let thy peace and thy salvation be upon that city, that they may gather out of that city the righteous, that they may come forth to Zion, or to her stakes, the place of thine appointment, with songs of everlasting joy, and until this be accomplished let not thy judgments fall upon that city.

And whatever city thy servants shall enter, and the people of that city receive not the testimony of thy servants, and thy servants warn them to save themselves from this untoward generation, let it be upon that city according to that which thou hast spoken, by the mouths of thy prophets, but deliver thou, O Jehovah, we beseech thee, thy servants from their hands, and cleanse them from their blood. O Lord, we delight not in the destruction of our fellow men: their souls are precious before thee; but thy word must be fulfilled:—help thy servants to say with thy grace assisting them, thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.

We know that thou hast spoken by the mouth of thy prophets, terrible things concerning the wicked, in the last days, that thou wilt pour out thy judgments, without measure: therefore. O Lord, deliver thy people from the calamity of the wicked; enable thy servants to seal up the law and bind up the testimony, that they may be prepared against the day of burning.

We ask thee, holy Father, to remember those who have been driven by the inhabitants of Jackson county, Missouri, from the lands of their inheritance, and break off. O Lord, this yoke of affliction, that has been put upon them. Thou knowest, O Lord, that they have been greatly oppressed, and afflicted, by wicked men, and our hearts flow out in sorrow because of their grievous burdens. O Lord, how long wilt thou suffer this people to bear this affliction, and the cries of their innocent ones to ascend up in thine ears, and their blood to come up in testimony before thee, and not make a display of thy power in their behalf?

Have mercy, O Lord, upon that wicked mob, who have drive thy people, that they may cease to spoil, that they may repent of their sins, if repentance is to be found; but if they will not, make bear thine arm O Lord, and redeem that which thou didst appoint a Zion unto thy people.

And if it can not be otherwise, that the cause of thy people may not fail before thee, may thine anger be kindled and thine indignation fail upon them, that they may be wasted away, both root and branch from under heaven; but in as much as they will repent, thou art gracious and merciful, and will turn away thy wrath, when thou lookest upon the face of thine anointed.

Have mercy, O Lord, upon all the nations of the earth: have mercy upon the rulers of our land: may those principles which were so honorably and nobly defended: vis. the constitution of our land, by our fathers be established forever. Remember the kings, the princes, the nobles, and the great ones of the earth, and all people; and the churches: all the poor, the needy and the afflicted ones of the earth, that their hearts may be softened when thy servants shall go out from thy house, O Jehovah, to bear testimony of thy name, that their prejudices may give way before the truth, and thy people may obtain favor in the sight of all, that all the ends of the earth may know that we thy servants have heard thy voice, and that thou hast sent us, that from among all these thy servants, the sons of Jacob may gather out the righteous to build a holy city to thy name, as thou hast commanded them.

We ask thee to appoint unto Zion other stakes besides this one, which thou hast appointed, that the gathering of thy people may roll on in great power and majesty, that thy work may be cut short in righteousness.

Now these words, O Lord, we have spoken before thee, concerning the revelations and commandments which thou hast given unto us, who are identified with the Gentiles; But thou knowest that we have a great love for the children of Jacob who have been scattered upon the mountains; for a long time in a cloudy and dark day.

We therefore ask thee to have mercy upon the children of Jacob, that Jerusalem, from this hour, may begin to be redeemed; and the yoke of bondage may begin to be broken off from the house of David, and the children of Judah may begin to return to the lands which thou didst give to Abraham, their father, and cause that the remnants of Jacob, who have been cursed and smitten, because of their transgression, to be converted from their wild and savage condition, to the fulness of the everlasting gospel that they may lay down their weapons of bloodshed and cease their rebellions. And may all the scattered remnants of Israel, who have been driven to the ends of the earth, come to a knowledge of the truth, believe in the Messiah and be redeemed from oppression, and rejoice before thee.

O Lord, remember thy servant Joseph Smith, jr. and all his afflictions and persecutions, how he has covenanted with Jehovah and vowed to thee, O mighty God of Jacob, and the commandments which thou hast given unto him, and that he hath sincerely strove to do thy will. Have mercy, O Lord, upon his wife and children, that they may be exalted in thy presence, and preserved by thy fostering hand. Have mercy upon all their immediate connexions, that their prejudices may be broken up, and swept away as with a flood, that they may be converted and redeemed with Israel and know that thou art God. Remember, O Lord, the presidents, even all the presidents of thy church, that thy right hand may exalt them with all their families, and their immediate connexions, that their names may be perpetuated and had in everlasting remembrance from generation to generation.

Remember all thy church, O Lord, with all their families, and all their immediate connexions, with all their sick and afflicted ones, with all the poor and meek of the earth, that the kingdom which thou hast set up without hands, may become a great mountain and fill the whole earth, that they church may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners, and be adorned as a bride for that day when thou shalt unveil the heavens, and cause the mountains to flow down at thy presence, and the valleys to be exalted, the rough places made smooth, that they glory may fill the earth.

That when the trump shall sound for the dead, we shall be cause up in the cloud to meet thee, that we may ever be with the Lord, that our garments may be pure, that we may be clothed upon with robes of righteousness, with palms in our hands, and crowns of glory upon our hands; and reap eternal joy for all our sufferings. O Lord, God Almighty hear us in these our petitions, and answer us from heaven, thy holy habitation, where thou sittest enthroned, with glory, honor, power, majesty, might, dominion, truth, justice, judgments, mercy and an infinity of fulness, from everlasting to everlasting.

O hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord,, and answer these petitions, and accept the dedication of this house, unto thee, the work of our hands, which we have built unto thy name; and also this church to put upon it thy name. And help us by the power of thy Spirit, that we may mingle our voices with those bright shining seraphs, around thy throne with acclamations of praise, singing hosanna to God and the Lamb: and let these thine anointed ones be clothes with salvation, and thy saints shout aloud for joy. Amen and Amen.

The choir then sung a hymn.

Tune Hosanna.

The Spirit of God like a fire is burning;

The latter day glory begins to come forth;

The visions and blessings of old are returning;

The angels are coming to visit the earth.

We'll sing & we'll shout with the armies of heaven:

Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!

Let glory to them in the highest be given,

Henceforth and forever: amen and amen!

The Lord is extending the saints' understanding:

Restoring their judges and all as at first;

The knowledge and power of God are expanding:

The vail o'er the earth is beginning to burst.

We'll sing and we'll shout &c.

We call in our solemn assemblies, in spirit,

To spread forth the kingdom of heaven abroad,

That we through our faith may begin to inherit;

The visions, and blessings, and glories of God.

We'll sing and we'll shout &c.

We'll wash, and be wash'd, and with oil he anointed

Withal not omitting the washing of poet:

For he that receiveth his penny appointed,

Must surely be clean at the harvest of wheat.

We'll sing and we'll shout &c.

Old Israel that fled from the world for his freedom,

Must come with the cloud and the pillar, amain:

A Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua lead him,

And feed him on manna from heaven again.

We'll sing and we'll shout &c.

How blessed the day when the lamb and the lion

Shall lie down together without any ire;

And Ephraim be crown'd with the blessing in Zion,

And Jesus descends with his chariots of fire!

We'll sing & we'll shout with His armies of heaven:

Hosanna, hosanna to God and the Lamb!

Let glory to them in the highest be given,

Henceforth and forever: amen and amen.

President Smith then asked the several quorums separately and then the congregation, if they accepted the prayer. The vote was, in every instance, unanimous in the affirmative.

The Eucharist was administered. D. C. Smith blessed the bread and wine and they were distributed by several Elders present, to the church.

President J. Smith jr. then arose and bore record of his mission. D. C. Smith bore record of the truth of the work of the Lord in which we are engaged.

President O. Cowdery spoke and testified of the truth of the book of Mormon, and of the work of the Lord in these last days.

President F. G. Williams bore record that a Holy Angel of God, came and set between him and J. Smith sen. while the house was being dedicated.

President Hyrum Smith, (one of the building committee) made some appropriate remarks concerning the house, congratulating those who had endured so many toils and privations to erect it, that it was the Lord's house built by his commandment and he would bless them.

President S. Rigdon then made a few appropriate closing remarks; and a short prayer which was ended with loud acclamations of Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna to God and the Lamb, Amen, Amen and Amen! Three times. Elder B. Young, one of the Twelve, gave a short address in tongues; Elder D. W. Patten interpreted and gave a short exhortation in tongues himself; after which, President J. Smith jr. blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord, and at a little past four P.M. the whole exercise closed and the congregation dispersed.

We further add that we should do violence to our own feelings and injustice to the real merit of our brethren and friends who attended the meeting, were we here to withhold a meed of praise, which we think is their just due; not only for their quit demeanor during the whole exercise, which lasted more than eight hours, but for their great liberality in contributing of their earthly substance for the relief of the building committee, who were yet somewhat involved. As this was to be a day of sacrifice, as well as of fasting, There was a man placed at each door in the morning to receive the voluntary donations of those who entered. On counting the collection it amounted to nine hundred and sixty three dollars.

Messenger and Advocate pp. 274-281

 

 

 

JOHN WHITMER ADDRESS IN THE MESSENGER AND ADVOCATE

Kirtland, Ohio, March 1836.

To the patrons of the Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate.

It becomes my duty to inform you, that in consequence of other business, and other duties which all my immediate attention, my labors in the editorial department of this paper must cease for the present; and as this is the case, I must beg leave to make some remarks, as I am about being freed from this great responsibility. I will here say that for the increase of patronage for nine months past, so gratuitously bestowed upon unmerited talents, you have necessarily obliged me to tender you my deepest heart felt gratitude. I still indulge a hope, notwithstanding the advocate is about being transferred into other hands, that it will continue to receive its present support, and a rapid increase to its present subscription list, inasmuch as the prospects are flourishing, and the future editor's talents are deserving of patronage; I indulge a hope, that great good may be done by this means: and more especially in these last days, while "Darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the people."

Almost six years have passed since the church of Christ has been established: many and various are the scenes, that have passed before my eyes, since its commencement, during which time, we have been favored with the privilege, of making known to the world our belief in regard to salvation.

I take occasion here to add, that I rejoice exceedingly that this Herald of truth is in being, and I enjoy the privilege of resigning it into so good and able hands as Pres. O. Cowdery whose character and standing in society need no commendation from me where he is personally known: for he is known to be a man of piety, of candor, of truth, of integrity, of feeling for the welfare of the human family, and in short, he is a man of God: God acknowledge ge him as such in his revealed will: and should we not do so too?

While I reflect on leaving the editorial department, such a complicated mass of ideas burst upon my mind, that it is not possible to communicate them all. The great and responsible relation which a man sustains in occupying this station, to his fellow man, will have a tendency to humble, rather than exalt him in his own eyes; for he truly becomes a servant of all; and his words are left on record for present and future generations to scrutinize.

However there is consolation attached to these responsibilities, that gladdens the heart of an honest and humble saint, even a servant of servants: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. It is those things, which the world by their wisdom count foolishness, which converts the soul, and will prepare it to dwell in the presence of God, in the day of the Lord Jesus. "God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea; and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are."

While I reflect on the above sayings of the holy writer, it gladdens my heart, that I enjoy the privilege of living in this age of the world, when God in his kind providence, has began to work for the good of his long dispersed covenant people; when he has again made manifest his will, and has called servants by his own voice out of the heavens, and by the ministering of angels, and by his Holy Spirit; and has chosen the weak and simple to confound the wisdom of the wise: and to raise up and bring the church of the Lamb up out of the wilderness of wickedness, fair as the sun and clear as the moon. Which church took its rise April 6, 1830; and has thus far come up through much persecution and great tribulation.

It may not be amiss in this place, to give a statement to the world concerning the work of the Lord, as I have been a member of this church of Latter Day Saints from its beginning; to say that the book of Mormon is a revelation from God, I have no hesitancy; but with all confidence have signed my named to it as such; and I hope, that my patrons will indulge me in speaking freely on this subject, as I am about leaving the editorial department Therefore I desire to testify to all that will come to the knowledge of this address; that I have most assuredly seen the plates from whence the book of Mormon is translated, and that I have handled these plates, and know of a surety that Joseph Smith, jr. has translated the book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, and in this thing the wisdom of the wise most assuredly has perished: therefore, know ye, O ye inhabitants of the earth, wherever this address may come, that I have in this thing freed my garments of your blood, whether you believe or disbelieve the statements of your unworthy friend and well-wisher.

It is no trifling matter to sport with the souls of men, and make merchandise of them; I can say, with a clear conscience before God and man, that I have sought no man's goods, houses or lands, gold or silver; but had in view for my chief object, the welfare of the children of men, because I know that I have been called of God, to assist in bringing forth his work in these last days, and to help to establish it, that as many souls as would believe, and obey the truth, might be saved in his kingdom; and also assist in bringing about the restoration of the house of Israel, that they might magnify his name, for what he has done and is doing for the fulfilment of the prophecies of all the holy prophets that have written on this great and important subject, since the days of Adam, to this present time: and while I have been in the editorial department, I have endeavored to write, obtain and select such matter as was calculated to promote the cause of God, as far as my judgment was capable of discerning: and wherein I may have erred, I am conscientious and innocent; but do cheerfully and humbly ask pardon of those whose feelings in any wise I may have injured; by digressing in the least, from the strictest path of rectitude.

I would do injustice to my own feelings, if I did not here notice, still further the work of the Lord in these last days: The revelations and commandments given to us, are, in my estimation, equally true with the book of Mormon, and equally necessary for salvation, it is necessary to live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God: and I know that the Bible, book of Mormon and book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, contain the revealed will of heaven. I further know that God will continue to reveal himself to his church and people, until he has gathered his elect into his fold, and prepared them to dwell in his presence.

Men at times depend upon the say of others, and are influenced by their persuasions to embrace different systems. This is correct, inasmuch as the principle is a just one: God always commissioned certain men, to proclaim his precepts to the remainder of the generation in which they lived; and if they heeded not their sayings, they were under condemnation.

Though weak my have been my arguments and feeble my exertions, to persuade others to believe as myself, the few months I have labored in this department, I trust, I have been the means of doing some good to my fellow men. If I were not sensible that I have been doing the will of my heavenly Father, I should regret, that I have ever suffered my name to become public; I could not endure the idea of having been the means of persuading men to detract from truth, and embrace error: it has been a principle in my heart to embrace truth, and reject error; and I trust it will remain in my heart forever.

I feel it my duty to say, to the Elders who have been laboring in the cause of our blessed Redeemer, and have taken the trouble, to procure subscribers for the Messenger and Advocate, they have my sincere thanks, and shall ever occupy a conspicuous portion of my gratitude. There are others who have been somewhat negligent in this thing, which is owing perhaps, in part, for want of proper instruction upon this point; not realizing that this periodical is opening and preparing many places, for such as are travelling to proclaim the gospel of our blessed Redeemer; whereas, if it had not been for this means, would have been closed and impenetrable. I desire therefore, that the Elders of the church of Latter Day Saints will avail themselves of every opportunity that presents itself of procuring subscribers for this paper, not for peciunary interests, but for the welfare of the children of men. I hope that the Elders will do all the good in their power, as this is a day of "Warning and not of many words." Therefore, I trust you will have the spirit of God in your hearts to guide you into all truth, until the knowledge of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the great deep, and the saints of God are gathered together, and Zion becomes the joy of the whole earth.

John Whitmer.

Messenger and Advocate pp. 285-288