1837

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Warren Cowdery-Kirtland Safety Society

W. A. COWDERY, Editor.

KIRTLAND, OHIO, JUNE 1837.

A train of causes, and a combination of circumstances, not in our power to control, have operated to prevent our issuing our paper in the month of June. We admire punctuality in all business, but in a periodical like ours, we are as deeply sensible as any one can be, of the character and importance that are given to a regularly issued periodical, whether it be weekly or monthly, religious or political. We know from our own experience, that the human system no more craves food after a suitable time, than the political demagogue his newspaper or the saint his periodical when he has reason to expect it. He anticipates a mental treat; he expects his spirits will be refreshed, his understanding be enlightened, his judgment be corrected, his hopes brightened, his soul be edified, and his spiritual strength increased. And we are not insensible of the depression of spirits occasioned by a tardy mail, or a total failure of the paper when the mail arrives. Being fully aware of all these facts, we have labored assiduously on our part, to obviate all difficulties and remove all obstacles that would retard the forthcoming of the paper in due season. But so it is we with our numerous patrons are doomed to bear a disappointment. We have no compositor. We have till recently, had laborers enough at our control, but now we are destitute, or nearly so. Let but our readers be as patient with us, as we are with many of them relative to remittances, and we pledge ourselves there will be no falling off, but every reasonable allowance be made for the great and severe pressure in the moneyed institutions of our country, and the consequent effect which that has upon all business, and upon every occupation in community.

We claim no indulgence for idleness nor any excuse for sheer neglect of known duty, but simply for that charity to be extended to us [Mor. 7:45] "that endureth long and is kind, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth."

The change of times, and circumstances, and the almost entire revolution in the monetary affairs of our country, have sensibly affected this our community as well as all others. With few exceptions, a sullen, we can almost say, a desponding gloom hangs over us, sufficient at least to show a striking contrast between this and last year. One year since and our village was all activity, all animation the noise and bustle of teams with lumber, brick, stone, lime or merchandise, were heard from the early dawn of morning till the grey twilight of evening. The sound of the mechanic's hammer saluted the ear of the sluggard before the rising sun had fairly dispelled the sable shades of night, and the starting up, as if by magic, of buildings in every direction around us, were evincive to us of buoyant hope, lively anticipation, and a firm confidence that our days of pinching adversity had passed by, that the set time of the Lord to favor Zion had come, that we might almost rejoice when the world around us mourn, laugh at its calamity and mock when its fear comes; but we too feel the pressure, occasioned by the derangement of the currency, the loss of credit, the want of confidence, or by overtrading; either the whole combined, or a part of these causes, have contributed to produce the state of things that now exists. So far as prophylactics are concerned, it may be well to look to causes, remote and proximate. But the great desideratum is how shall we extricate ourselves, now that we have fallen into the dilemma. And first, with the wisdom of a Socrates or a Phocion, we must necessarily experience more or less of the evils incident to a deranged state of the currency, an inflated paper circulation, and from our intercourse with neighboring communities, the want of sound capital to purchase the necessaries of life, and materials for building up and enlarging our place in proportion to our numbers and wants. Although our religion differs from that of our fellow citizens around us, as much as that taught by the apostles differed from that of their contemporaries, yet we must of necessity have intercourse with them, in a commercial point of view, and suffer more or less as they suffer, taking into consideration the frequency and amount of that intercourse. With all the precaution we could possibly have exercised, as other adjacent places have been made to feel a reverse of fortune, so have we. But as we write for posterity as well as for our contemporaries, we feel bound to notice some of the remote and proximate causes, and leave our readers to suggest the remedy. We are all sensible that one year ago our village was lively, and every countenance was lit up with a smile. The laborer found employ and fair wages. The farmer living near found a ready market for all his surplus produce. The mechanic constant employ for all the hands he could engage. A great amount of merchandise was purchased on credit, and sold in this town during the summer, fall, and winter past. Lumber and every kind of building material bore a high price; and much of it, as there was much used, was necessarily bought on a credit. Real estate rose from one to eight hundred per cent and in many cases more. Men who were not thought worth fifty or an hundred dollars became purchasers to the amount of thousands. Notes, (some cash,) deeds, and mortgages passed and repassed, till all, or nearly all, vainly supposed they had become wealthy, or at least had acquired a competence. With the consciousness of having suddenly and without much effort enhanced the amount of his worldly fortune, every one thought he must clothe himself and family according to his circumstances & present prospects, he therefore made large bills with the merchants, and promised to pay in a few short months, or when the bank should open and begin to discount.

Time rolled on with its usual rapidity. All the necessaries of life rose in value, while the demand continued the same or rather increased, and the supply rather diminished. The time of payment on many large contracts had already come. The merchant, the mechanic, and the wholesale dealer began to call; the laborer who is ever worthy of his hire, began to feel the pressure. The effects of overtrading were visible, daily. Almost every man had given his notes for more than he could raise; contracts were expiring, where hundreds, yea, thousands were at stake. Some made exertions to extricate themselves by their own economy or the assistance of friends. Some sacrificed what they had paid, and gave up their contract. Some appeared to almost sink in despair, on viewing the prospect before them. While there were still another class, who reckless of all consequences, rushed blindly on, till ruin stared them full in the face.

This being a simple statement of facts, it is easy to see that overtrading is one of the principal remote causes of distress in our community. 2d. An inordinate desire to become suddenly and vastly rich. 3d. The deranged state of the money market abroad, and an inflated paper circulation at home, together with every article of food rising nearly one hundred per cent above the prices of last year. The laborer found less employ and still less pay, than formerly. The influx of inhabitants from abroad, in consequence of the general pressure, was less, and the few who did arrive felt little inclined to part with their disposable means. The day of speculation, we mean local speculation in real estate, appears to have gone by for the present, and the hour of adversity the time of trial—has come; payments are due, money scarce, credit impaired, and confidence gone! We speak not of these, as calamities peculiar to our little town. We mention them because they are common to our whole country, and because causes of a similar nature have combined to produce nearly the same effect throughout our whole country.

We are now, after having hinted at what we deemed the remote and proximate causes, to propose the remedies.

And, first, let every man live within his income, and contract no debts, except such as he is able, willing, and expects to pay himself; let him indulge in no visionary schemes of worldly greatness, or be puffed up with vanity as if the world was made for Caesar and all mankind beside his vassals. Let every man study to know his duty to himself, his family, his friends, his neighbors, his country, and his God. Let him assert his rights as a free intelligent citizen of the government that protects him, but let him never abuse those rights. Let him not aggravate the distresses of his fellow men by pandering to the passion, the prejudice, the tyranny, or pride of any. If in his judgement his rulers are good, and their government good, let him uphold, protect, and constitutionally defend them. But let him beware lest a blind zeal for party throws him off his balance, and he imbibe the idea, that man, frail man like himself, has claims to infallibility! Remember that the great Creator never made an independent man, and with equal propriety we might add he never made an infallible one.

Industry and good economy will overcome all the imaginary, and many of the real evils with which we are afflicted. Let all the constitutional remedies be put in requisition and our great affliction if not soon removed will soon be mitigated.

"Now, no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. HEB. 7:11.

It would seem almost superfluous to adduce any proof or raise any argument to convince even the most sceptical of the truth of this naked, broad assertion. Whether afflictions come and are viewed as the well-intended chastisements of a merciful Father, or are the concomitants of vice and crime, the apostle was right in saying they are not joyous, but grievous to be borne. Afflictions come not from the dust, neither do troubles spring out of the ground, but come they when they will, or from what cause they may, they are unwelcome, and are never joyfully received. Whether they are necessary to our enjoyment or not, it is morally certain they produce a sense of our dependence on Him who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Man is prone to forget his Maker, and to turn a deaf ear to the requirements of heaven. But chastisements bring him to feel what the word of God teaches him to believe. Under his affliction he reflects on the beneficence of his Creator, and pours out his soul in gratitude to him from whom all blessings flow. He realizes that it is not in his power, while pursuing a course contrary to the will of heaven, to taste joys unsullied, or bliss without alloy. The transgressor is sure to be visited with stripes; the reward of his iniquities will be given him, and none can deliver. Such is the effect of chastening on that soul that feels the importance of complying with what God requires of him. He bows in humble submission to the mandates of heaven. He sees, he feels, he knows, that his 'heavenly Father chastens every son whom he receiveth.' He also knows that chastisements are directed by a merciful hand, and that for the present they are not joyous but grievous; and he has an assurance that they will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to such as are exercised thereby.

God, as we have before remarked, chasteneth every son whom he receiveth. He truly dealeth with his own as a parent; and those who are without chastisement and without rebuke from him, may well conclude "that they are bastards and not sons," that he has withdrawn his Spirit, and given them over to hardness of heart and blindness of mind. They are left to believe lies that they may be damned, because they love not the truth, and have pleasure in unrighteousness.

Why, it may be asked, should God deal thus with his creatures? Are they not all his? Did he not create all? and does he not sustain all? Truly. And he deals with all as rational, accountable beings to him. If he had peopled the whole world with idiots, he certainly would not condemn them for a noncompliance with a law given for the government of wise, intelligent men. Why? because they could not understand it; therefore, since he is a just God and requires much only where much is given, it is easy to see that it could not be obligatory upon them. God has made millions of the human family and placed them upon the planet on which we dwell, and they are not favored with the light of revelation as we are. They know nothing of the written revealed will of God, his laws, or his gospel. Under these circumstances, will a just God condemn them? We are sensible that our answer must come in direct contact with the opinion of a great mass of the professing Christian world, but we unequivocally say no: we say so for two reasons.

And, first, because we believe it to be a plain dictate of common sense to say it; and, second, because the scriptures warrant us in such a conclusion. The apostle Paul, who is supposed to have written the epistle of which the words at the head of this article forms a part, when addressing his Roman brethren, says, "how shall they believe [in him of whom they have not heard] without they hear? and how shall they hear without a preacher," &c. The plain, legitimate inference from which is, that if they did not hear and understand they would not be bound to obey. The God of heaven will never condemn men who have not known his will, for not complying with what he requires of those to whom he has revealed himself, and those among whom his will has been promulgated. We are aware that in making this assertion, we come in contact with the creed of such of our professing Christian brethren as believe that God sends all to hell who do not believe the scriptures the Old and New Testament—when they have never seen, read or heard them. We think we are warranted in this belief from what the Saviour said to the unbelieving Jews: John 15:22, "If I had not come and spoken unto them they had not had sin: but now they have no cloak for their sin." Where the word of God is not known, where it is not understood, mankind cannot be expected to comply with it. This imposes an obligation on those who have received and obeyed the truth, to proclaim it to others, and urge the necessity of a compliance with it. But it cannot attach blame, or render that part of the human family liable to punishment, who have never been favored with the light of revelation.

But to return again to the subject from which we have inadvertently digressed. Chastisements are designed by our heavenly Father to bring us to him, to show our dependence on him, to excite humility in us, and thereby yield those peaceable fruits of righteousness which are so desireable to the saints of God. Therefore they seem to be necessary to bring the saint to God, our heavenly Father. Before I was afflicted I went astray (says the Psalmist) but now have I kept thy word. If they (the saints) go astray, they will be afflicted, they will be chastised; nevertheless "The Lord does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." He has given us a law for our government, and affixed a penalty if we depart from it. He is no respecter of persons, the high, the low, the rich, the poor, the bondman, the freeman, are alike to him. Such only as "fear him and work righteousness are accepted with him." No one can claim exemption from punishment or chastisment, who is a wilful transgressor; he can only plead in the name of Jesus for pardon, he can deprecate the evils consequent upon a course of transgression, and humbly implore forgivness for all his sins. "If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1st John 1:9.

We presume no one feels to controvert the ideas advanced by the sacred penman, from which we have made these few desultory remarks. We did not select it because it was a point of doctrine or principle about which we supposed the saints had any doubt. But we are aware after all, there are some nice distinctions respecting it. There are consequential evils, and there are penal evils. The saints who are truly such, are surrounded with a crooked and perverse generation, who are continually persecuting, vexing or grieving them. These are among the evils or chastisements which we are doomed to endure, which are consequent upon our situation here, and will yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to such as are exercised thereby.

We might here enlarge upon our subject, and say much on humility or self-denial; we might plead for it, and urge reasons and arguments drawn from scripture in support of it, but we need not. Of penal evils we have only to say, they are the just retribution of heaven for our crimes, and when we suffer for them, what thank have we, even if we bear them patiently? God has given us intelligence, he has required of us obedience, and justly made us accountable, "and if we sin wilfully after we have come to the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgement and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries." We are to deprecate such chastisements as shall come on the ungodly, who know their Master's will and do it not. We are to deplore the evils that flow from transgression, and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God. The blessings even, of a temporal nature, with which we are surrounded, and of which we are permitted to participate, ought to excite humility in us, and gratitude to Him from whom all blessings flow. How ungrateful then are we to rebel against the government of Heaven! or practically say, mine own hand has gotten me all these things; when we are taught, that "every good gift, and every perfect gift, cometh down from above, from the father of light, in whom is neither variableness nor shadow of turning"?

ED.

Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard that went down to the skirts of his garments: as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life forever more." Ps. 133.

The Psalmist was no doubt well acquainted with all the vicissitudes of human life;—with peace and with war, with prosperity and with adversity. The high encomium which he passes upon the union of brethren, and the figure which he brings to illustrate his ideas and portray his feelings, are of themselves evidence of his experience in the mutability of sublunary things, and the thrice happy situation of such a society as enjoys that union of which he speaks so highly. Man learns somewhat of the motives of his fellow man by the experience of others, but he is never so sensibly affected by what he is taught to believe, as by what he is brought to feel. We are far, very far, from inculcating the idea that we should embark in a war, that we may be able to appreciate the blessings of peace; or that we ought to do evil that good may come. But we do say that good and evil, virtue and vice, are so contrasted, or commingled, that, although we are not willing to subscribe to the doctrine, that they both flow from the same fountain, still that order of things is permitted by the great Ruler of the universe, which allows both to exist. We do not say that vice and crime are allowable by the laws of God, but we do know that good & evil, vice and crime exist, or are suffered to be; and that too among rational, intelligent, accountable beings, who have repeatedly read the law of God, and understood all its obligatory moral precepts.

Therefore, we say, although God does not approbate, yet he suffers or permits them to exist.

Here, in this chequered scene, we almost necessarily pass through enough of the varieties of fortune to know how to contrast union with disunion, to appreciate the former and deprecate the latter.

We look at this subject with deeper and more intense interest the longer it dwells upon our mind. Not that it is any greater or better than formerly. Not because it has become a controverted subject in divinity and we recently become a convert to the sentiment we now advocate; not that we suppose God has changed or his purpose varied. But because our own experience has proved the truth of what God by the mouth of the Psalmist has said. It enables us to say we know the truth of so much scripture most perfectly.

It appears that the character of God and the society of the blessed are delineated, although but faintly, by any human beings, yet we, by the union described in our text, can, at least, have some faint conception of such society as we shall all be pleased to enjoy, where the toscin of alarm, the din of arms and the noise of war, shall have no place, only in the reminiscences of bye gone days.

While the adversary is not bound, sin is in the world, and so long as sin has any place in any society, so long that society, whether it be composed of saints or sinners, must suffer the evils that flow from it. In vain do they attempt to evade the evils consequent thereon. In vain do they attempt to hide from the scrutinizing eye of Jehovah, deeds of evil or works of darkness.

Man may plot iniquity with gravity the most sanctimonious; he may rear fabrics in his imagination the most splendid, for a while fortune may attend him, still if his works are not works of righteousness, however plausible in the outset, the issue will be unfavorable, the smile of heaven will not rest upon his labors, prosperity will not crown his efforts. That which is evil, that which is sin, will never produce union or harmony in any society: it will not bring order out of chaos nor restore peace to the troubled soul. Truth must prevail, righteousness must be pursued or no people can dwell together in unity. We are not uttering prophesies, or speaking of things that have recently passed before our eyes, but of things which have long since become matters of history, and recorded for our instruction. Man, we know is an imitative animal; with the purest of motives and the best intentions, he follows almost imperceptibly the footsteps of those around him. If he respect and revere his rulers, he copies their manners, he imbibes their habits, and if they have vices, he will hardly escape contamination by them. So that the sacred penman hath well said, "when the wicked bear rule the land mourns," when the wicked bear rule, there is discord, disunion and every evil work. But not so when the righteous bear rule. "The works of righteousness are peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever."

ED.

Vol. 3 June, 1837 No. 33