The Essential Joseph Smith
Foreword by Marvin S. Hill
“Sir, Considering the Liberal Principles,” Joseph Smith to N. C. Saxton, editor,
American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer, 4 January 1833
(from Times and Seasons [Nauvoo, Illinois] 5 [15 November 1844], 21:705-707)
[p.33]Sir, Considering the liberal principles, upon which your interesting and valuable paper is published, myself being a subscriber, and feeling a deep interest in the cause of Zion and in the happiness of my brethren of mankind, I cheerfully take up my pen to contribute my mite, at this very interesting and important period.
For some length of time I have been carefully viewing the state of things, as they now appear, throughout our christian land; and have looked at it with feelings of the most painful anxiety, while upon one hand, beholding the manifest withdrawal of God’s Holy Spirit, and the vail of stupidity which seems to be drawn over the hearts of the people; and upon the other hand beholding the judgments of God that have swept, and are still sweeping hundreds and thousands of our race, (and I fear unprepared) down to the shades of death.—With this solemn and alarming fact before me I am led to exclaim, “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night,” &c.
I think that it is high time for a christian world to awake out of sleep, and cry mightily to that God, day and night, whose anger we have justly incurred. Are not these things a sufficient stimulant to arouse the faculties, and call forth the energies of every man, woman, and child, that possesses feelings of sympathy for their fellows, or that is in any degree endeared to the budding cause of our glorious Lord? I leave an intelligent community to answer this important question, with a confession, that this is what has caused me to overlook my own inability, and expose my weakness to a learned world: but, trusting in that God, who has said these things are hid from the wise and prudent and revealed unto babes, I step forth into the field to tell you what the [p.34]Lord is doing, and what you must do, to enjoy the smiles of your Saviour in these last days.
The time has at last arrived when the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob has set his hand again, the second time, to recover the remnants of his people, which have been left from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, &.c., and from the islands of the sea, and with them to bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, and establish that covenant with them, which was promised when their sins should be taken away. See Romans 11:25, 26, and 27, and also, Jeremiah 31:31, 32 and 33. This covenant has never been established with the house of Israel, nor with the house of Judah, for it requires two parties to make a covenant, and those two parties must be agreed, or, no covenant can be made.
Christ, in the days of his flesh, proposed to make a covenant with them, but they rejected him and his proposals, and in consequence thereof, they were broken off, and no covenant was made with them at that time. But their unbelief has not rendered the promise of God of none effect: no, for there was another day limited in David, which was the day of his power; and then his people, Israel, should be a willing people;–and he would write his laws in their hearts, and print them in their thoughts; their sins and their iniquities he would remember no more.
Thus after this chosen family had rejected Christ and his proposals, the heralds of salvation said to them “lo we turn unto the Gentiles,” and the Gentiles received the covenant, and were grafted in from whence the chosen family were broken off: but the Gentiles have not continued in the goodness of God, but have departed from the faith that was once delivered to the saints, and have broken the covenant in which their fathers were established: (see Isaiah 24:5,) and have become high minded, and have not feared; therefore, but few of them will be gathered with the chosen family. Has not the pride, high-mindedness, and unbelief of the Gentiles provoked the Holy One of Israel to withdraw his Holy Spirit from them, and send forth his judgments to scourge them for their wickedness? This is certainly the case.
Christ said to his disciples, (Mark 16:17 and 18,) that these signs should follow them that believe: in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up servants [serpents], and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover; and also, in connexion with this, read 1st Corinthians 12th chapter. By the foregoing [p.35]testimonies, we may look at the christian world and see the apostacy there has been from the apostolic platform; and who can look at this and not exclaim, in the language of Isaiah, “the earth is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.”
The plain fact is this, the power of God begins to fall upon the nations, and the light of the latter day glory begins to break forth through the dark atmosphere of sectarian wickedness, and their iniquity rolls up into view, and the nations of the Gentiles are like the waves of the sea, casting up mire and dirt, or, all in commotion, and they hastily are preparing to act the part allotted them, when the Lord rebukes the nations; when he shall rule them with a rod of iron, and break them in pieces like a potters vessel. The Lord declared to his servants, some eighteen months since, that he was withdrawing his spirit from the earth; and we can see that such is the fact, for not only the churches are dwindling away, but there are no conversions, or, but very few; and this is not all, the governments of the earth are thrown into confusion and division; and DESTRUCTION, to the eye of the spiritual beholder, seems to be written by the finger of an invisible hand, in large capitals upon almost every thing we behold.
And now what remains to be done, under circumstances like these? I will proceed to tell you what the Lord requires of all people, high and low, rich and poor, male and female, ministers and people, professors of religion, and non-professors, in order that they may enjoy the Holy Spirit of God to a fulness, and escape the judgments of God, which are almost ready to burst upon the nations of the earth.—Repent of all your sins, and be baptised in water for the remission of them, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and receive the ordinance of the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power, that ye may receive the Holy Spirit of God; and this is according to the Holy scriptures, and of the Book of Mormon; and the only way that man can enter into the Celestial kingdom. These are the requisitions of the new covenant, or first principles of the gospel of Christ; then “add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity; (or love,) and if these things be in you, and abound, they make you to be neither barren, nor unfruitful, in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western [p.36]tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power [of] God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that of Joseph that was sold into Egypt, and that the land [of] America is a promised land unto them, and unto it, all the tribes of Israel will come, with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem. The City of Zion, spoken of by David, in the one hundred and first Psalm, will be built upon the land of America, “and the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to it with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads,” and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. See Joel 2:32. Isaiah 26:20, and 21st. Jeremiah 31:12. Psalms 50:5. Ezekiel 34:11, 12, and 13. These are testimonies, that the good Shepherd will put forth his own sheep, and lead them out from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day, to Zion, and to Jerusalem: besides many more testimonies which might be brought.
And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away, before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquakes will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requisitions of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the State of Missouri; therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded me to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me, and that to him I am accountable for every word I say, wishing nothing worse to my fellow men then their eternal salvation; therefore, “fear God and give glory to him for the hour of his judgment is come”—Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while he is near, and seek him while he may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.