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An Epistle of the Twelve


To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Nauvoo and all the world:. . . GREETING.

BELOVED BRETHREN: Forasmuch as the Saints have been called to suffer deep affliction and persecution, and also to mourn the loss of our beloved Prophet and also our Patriarch, who have suffered a cruel martyrdom for the testimony of Jesus, having voluntarily yielded themselves to cruel murderers who had sworn to take their lives, and thus like good shepherds have laid down their lives for the sheep, therefore it becomes necessary for us to address you at this time on several important subjects.

You are now without a prophet present with you in the flesh to guide you; but you are not without apostles, who hold the keys of power to seal on earth that which shall be sealed in heaven, and to preside over all the affairs of the church in all the world; being still under the direction of the same God, and being dictated by the same spirit, having the same manifestations of the Holy Ghost to dictate all the affairs of the church in all the world, to build up the kingdom upon the foundation that the prophet Joseph has laid, who still holds the keys of this last dispensation, and will hold them to all eternity, as a king and priest unto the most high God, ministering in heaven, on earth, or among the spirits of the departed dead, as seemeth good to him who sent him.

Let no man presume for a moment that his place will be filled by another; for, remember he stands in his own place, and always will; and the Twelve Apostles of this dispensation stand in their own place and always will, both in time and in eternity, to minister, preside and regulate the affairs of the whole church.

How vain are the imaginations of the children of men, to presume for a moment that the slaughter of one, two or a hundred of the leaders of this church could destroy an organization, so perfect in itself and so harmoniously arranged that it will stand while one member of it is left alive upon the earth. Brethren be not alarmed, for if the Twelve should be taken away still there are powers and offices in existence which will bear the kingdom of God triumphantly victorious in all the world. This church may have prophets many, and apostles many, but they are all to stand in due time in their proper organization, under the direction of those who hold the keys.

On the subject of the gathering, let it be distinctly understood that the City of Nauvoo and the Temple of our Lord are to continue to be built up according to the pattern which has been commenced, and which has progressed with such rapidity thus far.

The city must be built up and supported by the gathering of those who have capital, and are willing to lay it out for the erection of every branch of industry and manufacture, which is necessary for the employment and support of the poor, or of those who depend wholly on their labor; while farmers who have capital must come on and purchase farms in the adjoining country, and improve and cultivate the same. In this way all may enjoy plenty, and our infant city may grow and flourish, and be strengthened an hundred fold; and unless this is done, it is impossible for the gathering to progress, because those who have no other dependence cannot live together without industry and employment.

Therefore, let capitalists hasten here; and they may be assured we have nerves, sinews, fingers, skill and ingenuity sufficient in our midst to carry on all the necessary branches of industry.

The Temple must be completed by a regular system of tithing, according to the commandments of the Lord, which he has given as a law unto this church, by the mouth of his servant Joseph.

Therefore, as soon as the Twelve have proceeded to a full and complete organization of the branches abroad, let every member proceed immediately to tithe himself or herself, a tenth of all their property and money, and pay it into the hands of the Twelve; or into the hands of such Bishops as have been, or shall be appointed by them to receive the same, for the building of the Temple or the support of the priesthood, according to the scriptures, and the revelations of God; and then let them continue to pay in a tenth of their income from that time forth, for this is a law unto this church as much binding on their conscience as any other law or ordinance. And let this law or ordinance be henceforth taught to all who present themselves for admission into this church, that they may know the sacrifice and tithing which the Lord requires, and perform it; or else not curse the church with a mock membership as many have done heretofore. This will furnish a steady public fund for all sacred purposes, and save the leaders from constant debt and embarrassment, and the members can then employ the remainder of their capital in every branch of enterprise, industry, and charity, as seemeth them good; only holding themselves in readiness to be advised in such manner as shall be for the good of themselves and the whole society; and thus all things can move in harmony, and for the general benefit and satisfaction of all concerned.

The United States and adjoining provinces will be immediately organized by the Twelve into proper districts, in a similar manner as they have already done in England and Scotland, and high priests will be appointed over each district, to preside over the same, and to call quarterly conferences for the regulation and representation of the branches included in the same, and for the furtherance of the gospel; and also to take measures for a yearly representation in a general conference. This will save the trouble and confusion of the running to and fro of elders; detect false doctrine and false teachers, and make every elder abroad accountable to the conference in which he may happen to labor. Bishops will also be appointed in the larger branches, to attend to the management of the temporal funds, such as tythings, and funds for the poor, according to the revelations of God, and to be judges in Israel.

The gospel in its fulness and purity, must now roll forth through every neighborhood of this wide-spread country, and to all the world; and millions will awake to its truths and obey its precepts; and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.

As rulers and people have taken counsel together against the Lord; and against his anointed, and have murdered him who would have reformed and saved the nation, it is not wisdom for the Saints to have any thing to do with politics, voting, or president making, at present.—None of the candidates who are now before the public for that high office, have manifested any disposition or intention to redress wrong or restore right, liberty or law; and therefore, wo unto him who gives countenance to corruption, or partakes of murder, robbery or other cruel deeds. Let us then stand aloof from all their corrupt men and measures, and wait, at least, till a man is found, who, if elected, will carry out the enlarged principles, universal freedom, and equal rights and protection, expressed in the views of our beloved prophet and martyr, General JOSEPH SMITH.

We do not, however, offer this political advise as binding on the consciences of others; we are perfectly willing that every member of this church should use their own freedom in all political matters; but we give it as our own rule of action, and for the benefit of those who may choose to profit by it.

Now, dear brethren, to conclude our present communication, we would exhort you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to be humble and faithful before God, and before all the people, and give no occasion for any man to speak evil of you; but preach the gospel in its simplicity and purity, and practice righteousness, and seek to establish the influence of truth, peace and love among mankind, and in so doing the Lord will bless you, and make you a blessing to all people.

You may expect to hear from us again.


President of the Twelve.

Nauvoo, August 15th, 1844.

Times and Seasons, vol. 5 January 1844—January 1, 1845 pp. 618-620