Mormon History 1830-1844

Beliefs & Practices

Managing Zion Expectations, May 1837
Warren Cowdery, brother of Oliver Cowdery and editor of the Messenger and Advocate, warns would-be immigrants to Far West not to expect a perfect society, for they will be disappointed. Be cautious. Swindlers are abroad promising high rates of return and blessings of the Lord. Reform is needed, but that should not dissuade the honest from their faith.
  Messenger and Advocate, 3 no. 8 (May 1837): 505–510.
Gospel net catches all kinds We, some few months since, had occasion to remark that the parable of the Savior concerning the net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, was never more fully verified than in the gathering of the church in Kirtland. From a careful observation since we penned that article, we can truly say that the every day occurrences have tended to corroborate the assertion, rather than convince us that we were then mistaken.  
Object is to gather to Far West Our elders go out and preach the gospel to all, convincing and persuading them to embrace the truth; some believe and embrace it, and others reject it. The object of those who embrace the gospel, is to sell their possessions where they are, and come to this place or join our brethren in the "Far West."  
Some love, share, sacrifice   Some come here with hearts filled with love and good will to their brethren and a truly laudable zeal for the cause of our Redeemer, willing to hearken to their brethren and impart of their substance, where God requires it for the advancement of his cause and the glory of his kingdom. Indeed, no sacrifice appears too great for them to make, that can in righteousness be re-required.    
Others mooch and complain   Others appear to come with far different views and motives, apparently to live on the labor or alms of their friends or brethren, and complain if they do not receive a support. They appear to have forgotten that it has been said that the idler shall not eat the bread nor wear the clothing of the laborer.   ¶ D&C 75:29, Jan. 25, 1832
Apostatize They disobey or disregard the revelations and all words of wisdom which the Lord has given for the benefit of his saints; they join affinity with the adversary, strike hands with the world, sigh for the flesh pots of Egypt, and finally fall away and become apostates.   flesh pots of Egypt: "And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the a flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. Exodus 16:3
Naiïve easy prey There is still another class, who are honest, confiding, unsuspecting souls, who yield to the entreaties and persuasions of the idle and avaricious, who, reckless of all consequences, are ready to make any promises, however inconsistent with truth or reason, to obtain all the money they have. Why do they give up their all in this way? Is it because they are insane and have lost their reason? Certainly not; but they have come here to live with their brethren, members of the same church, who have suffered persecution as well as they.  
Rely on presence of prophet and first elders   Here also are the heads of the church, the church of God, led by revelation given for the government and guidance of the saints at the present day and age, not for ancient ages; and in addition to all these, the prophet and first elders of the church reside here, and they will not uphold lying and deceiving; therefore, say they, we will confide in our brethren, they cannot, they will not deceive us.    
Frauds lead to doubt, apostasy Thus, it is easy to see that such a course of conduct must inevitably bring ruin and distress upon the individuals concerned. Not only so, but more or less, mar the peace of community. A system of fraud or deception to obtain their money and rob them of their means of subsistence, leads them to doubt, to complain, to grieve, and frequently to apostatize and turn away from the faith.  
Ask for advice from trustworthy friends Under these circumstances what is to be done? We will suggest a remedy for the consideration of our brethren abroad. When you arrive here, if you have confidential friends in whom you can repose confidence relative to temporal matters, ask their advice about a location and the price, &c.    
Confer with the bishop Confer also with the Bishop, whose of-[506]fice it is to administer to the poor, and if you have money or other property to bestow for their relief or building up the cause of God, put it into his hands, and the proper counsellors will see that a righteous disposition is made of it.—   Bishop
Be aware of schemers

Promise profits and blessings

Desert you

But we do caution you, not to be jealous or suspicious of your brethren, but to beware of such as attack you as soon as you enter this place, and begin to interrogate you about the amount of money you have, and to importune you for it, with assurances that you shall have it refunded with interest, and that the Lord shall bless you abundantly; yea, and multiply blessings upon you. Of such we say beware. They take advantage of your honest simplicity, obtain your available means, and then desert you.    
Refuse to return investment If you ask for it, or a part of it, when you think your circumstances require it, you will be likely to be put off with, perhaps, a renewal of the promise, an assurance that at some future period you shall have it: when that period arrives, you may make another application, and you will be less warmly received, and have still less assurances of obtaining any relief.    
Schemers heartless The third application you make, you may portray your own situation and that of your family, in all the colors that imagination can invent, or that truth and native eloquence can paint; tell them in soul stirring, pathetic language, with your eyes suffused with tears, that your family are destitute of the necessary means of subsistence, that your companion and tender offspring are crying for bread; you may then be turned away with a severe rebuke, and be taxed with a want of faith, and a want of suitable exertions to obtain what you need, without troubling them.
Schemers will ruin you   We now say to you again, beware of such. They will deceive you, ruin your worldly prospects, blast all your hopes of a living from what you once possessed, and leave you a miserable outcast, dependent on your daily labor for your daily bread, or the stinted charity of an unfriendly, ungrateful world.    
Benefit from experience

Look for no miracle
Furthermore we say, if you have faith in God and his cause, have it, we truly rejoice at it; we bid you God speed; may you increase in it, and grow in grace. But if you are young men and maidens who have had neither the benefit of age or experience to teach you, we say remember your duty to God and his cause as a paramount obligation, remember the obligation you owe to yourself and your friends, and look for no divine or miraculous interposition of Providence in your behalf in your temporal pursuits.
Cannot live on wind or false promises In short, remember that the saints cannot live on wind, on sycophancy or false promises, their temporal bodies require temporal food to nourish them, in this place, as well as all others, while they dwell in the flesh.

Don't expect God to support you

Earn a living and share with others

You must also remember that you have no just cause to expect, that God will sustain you here without calculation and without exertion, nor that you can lull in the lap of luxury and ease, without money or other means. You will bear in mind that you are endowed with powers and faculties of mind that are to be put in requisition for your own benefit and the benefit of the saints.    
Common sense business You may also remember that in calculating your temporal business, there are certain known rules, and long tried principles, which if pursued, will lead to a successful issue and leave you no cause to redress errors or mourn over your wild speculations. Those principles are to be pursued here, as well as elsewhere, and no one need expect success if he vary from them. Vain theory, idle fancy, and visionary speculation, will but end in ruin and disgrace. Such are the consequences, the inevitable consequences in other places, and such they will be here, and permit us to add, that no human power can prevent them.
  But for the sake of argument, we will barely admit that we may be wrong, that we have shown you the dark side of the picture, that you may pledge your faith, beyond your means, and make your thousands or tens of thousands by so doing.    
Successful speculation at expense of neighbors   But hark ye: if you have made it here, have you not made it out of your poor brethren? Have they not become the sufferers thereby? or have you created so much property and no one been the loser? You can hardly say it, unless you have labored industriously at some employment, that has converted a raw material or a commodity of a less marketable value into that of a greater. If you have, this is commendable and useful, this we need, what society needs, and what we most cordially approbate. This is not injuring our neighbors, or reducing the sum total of available [507] means or human felicity, but enhancing both.    
Cause and effect Causes, you know, produce effects, and like causes produce like effects in all places, and among all people, whether they be saints or sinners. Men do not gather grapes of thorns nor figs of thistles, neither can the vine bear olive berries or the grape figs. And the trees are no better known by their fruit than certain effects, known and established, follow the causes that have produced them. gather grapes of thorns: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" Matthew 7:16
Ruin follows evil

Righteous succeed

Schemers harm innocent
Ruin, shame, misery and disgrace, follow a course of evil doing, but righteous pursuits and upright measures are crowned with success. You possibly may, by launching into an unknown sea without chart or compass, arrive safely in your desired haven. But it is a hundred to one, that you will be dashed upon rocks or quicksands and be lost. You will bear in mind that the wise man said, "the prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself, but the wicked pass on and are punished." If you are successful in wild enterprises or visionary calculations, rest assured, that somebody is the poorer; and that same wise man has said, "he that maketh haste to be rich, shall not be innocent." prudent man forseeth: A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished." Proverbs 22:3, 27:12

he that maketh haste: "A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent." Proverbs 28:20
All kinds in Far West
But to return a little to the point from where we started. The net has truly gathered of every kind, and there are some of all classes of people in this place. There are those who conduct as if there were no God, nor any hereafter; and there are those who apparently fear God, love and revere him, love their brethren and walk uprightly. The former class have assented to all the truths of the gospel, obeyed its outward ordinances, but their fruits are evincive of corrupt hearts and debased principles.
As anciently   Such things occurred anciently, and they may be expected in modern times. Lying and deceiving are truly sinful practices, and sin is a reproach to any person or any people, and the wise and the good will always deprecate it.    
Evil doers not countenanced, but … You are not to understand that we uphold evil or countenance evil doers, but here is collected a large body of people, whose customs and manners are not assimilated; and there are some jealousies, that would not exist in the small branches abroad. These, brethren, you see are to us, unavoidable.—
Offences must come   Offences must come, but we can say wo be to him from whom the offence cometh. We know there is a right and a wrong in human actions, and that the wicked will not go unpunished or the righteous unrewarded. God is no respecter of persons. He only that feareth him and worketh righteousness is accepted with him.   Offences must come: "Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" Matthew 18:7
Disobedient don't prove religion false While there are those who disobey and disregard the principles of our religion, that is no proof of their falsity, or that they are not of divine origin.—
Don't expect perfect society

  If you come here to see perfection in the church and all living like saints of God; you will be disappointed, sadly disappointed. If you neglect your own duty to God, yourself, your brethren, your families, either or all, God will not hold you guiltless nor suffer you to pass smoothly down the current of time; conscious guilt and pale remorse, will gnaw like a worm the root of your felicity. One duty omitted, inevitably leads to the omission of more, and those omissions press on in rapid succession, till the once fair professor fastens upon infidelity or ends his miserable career in the vertex of ruin.    
Others' faults If you watch for the failings and imperfections of others, and endeavor to correct their follies and faults, let us say to you, that you have undertaken too much, even more than you can perform. Remember that by others' faults wise men correct their own, and your duties to God and your own soul, are paramount to all others. By these remarks, you are not to understand that you have nothing to do in bringing those who violate the laws of God, to condign punishment; by no means, but beware, lest in prosecuting to obtain justice, you imbibe a wrong spirit and become a persecutor. condign: entirely in accordance with what is deserved or merited: neither exceeding nor falling below one's deserts—used only of punishments since the end of the 17th century
Head/heart religion You are doubtless aware that a medical man may have a correct knowledge of the human system, and a correct theory of medicine, but an erroneous practice may destroy his patients. So with regard to religious theory, he may have been baptized for the remission of his sins, he may have eaten and drunken in the name of the Lord Jesus, in his name prophesied, cast out devils and done many wonderful works, yet if you were to cut off his head, his soul would land in hell. Such, you know, have only head religion, while the heart is full of all manner of wickedness and abominable idolatries. They are an offence to God and his people, and as [508] we have before remarked, wo to them from whom offences come. We have often thought virtue and pure religion shone more conspicuously by being contrasted with vice and hypocrisy, and the innocent and uncontaminated would see the vast disparity, choose the good and refuse the evil.
Wicked among us

Don't expect miracles
You will not conclude as rational beings, that God has not a people here of his own choice, that he loves and will eventually save in his celestial kingdom, because there are workers of iniquity amongst them, nor that he has not renewed his covenant, set up a standard to the nations and revealed himself to the children of men in this our day, because you do not see great miracles performed, or because he has not condescended to reveal himself to you, or speak to you with an audible voice.
John the Baptist did not miracles

Miracles no proof
In the days of the Savior it was said by pretty good authority, that there had not arisen a greater than John the baptist, and yet he did no miracles. So we see by a recurrence to scripture testimony, that the absence of miracles is no infallible evidence of imposture. By the same authority also we are warranted in the conclusion that prophecying and doing many wonderful works in the name of the Lord, not only will not of themselves, ensure them a seat in the celestial kingdom, but will not prove that the Lord has ever spoken to them or revealed his will to the children of men, through them.    
Didn't convince Jews of Jesus In short, God's ways are higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts. Doing miracles did not convince the unbelieving Jews that Jesus was the true Messiah, neither would men be convinced in our day were they to witness them any more than were the Jews.   God's ways are higher: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8–9

asked for a sign: "And the Pharisees came forth, and began to question with him, seeking of him a sign from heaven, tempting him. And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you, There shall no sign be given unto this generation." Mark 8:11–12
Sign seekers The devil asked for a sign, and was repulsed; the Pharisees asked for a sign and were reproached for their incredulity. And if the Lord himself refused to give a sign to gratify the Jews, his covenant people, do you believe he would suffer one of his servants in these days, to give a sign or work a great miracle to gratify the unbelieving Gentiles? a race of beings who believe there will be no more miracles, no more revelations?  
Believe The Savior said to the Jews, you have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them, and if they will not hear them, they will not believe though one rose from the dead:   you have Moses: "Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent," Luke 16:29–30

ensign to the nations: "And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly:" Isaiah 5:26
Believe honestly So we say in these days, if you do not believe what the scriptures say concerning the signs of the times, that the Lord is to renew his covenant, set up an ensign to the nations and assemble the outcasts of Israel in the last days, when it is so plainly and positively pointed out therein, you had better act the honest part at once, deny the whole volume of revelation and play the hypocrite no longer.  

Light has come

Can see false systems

But some love darkness rather than light

It is a moral fact that discussion and investigation elicit truths that have long been buried in oblivion or tradition, and light has come into the world and been reflected upon the children of men in that brilliancy that many can see the utter fallacy of all the prevailing systems of religion. They can see that their belief is vain, their hope fallacious, their priests without authority from God, and their God never to speak to the children of men again; consequently their faith in him must be vain and worse than vain. Notwithstanding light has come into the world, men still "love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil." love darkness: "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19
Evil among us Evils, we have before said, exist, and they exist among us, among the saints of God in this place, and we are sorry to say, they are multifarious and grievous to be borne. Our heart is often pained within us and our feelings tried to the centre on beholding the conduct, the wicked conduct of some of those who have named the name of Christ.    
Many called, few chosen anciently as now But when we reflect that anciently many were called but few chosen, and the Savior himself likened the kingdom of heaven to a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind, we console ourselves with the reflection that what was then truth is now truth, what was then proven is fully exemplified in our day, and we should not murmur on that account as if "some strange thing had happened unto us."   many were called: "For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14
No justification for sin But, brethren, iniquity in others will never justify an evil act in us, he that sinneth shall not be held guiltless, and "he that scorneth alone shall bear it." To our own master we stand or fall.   scorneth alone: "If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it." Proverbs 9:12
Hypocrites eventually overtaken The hypocrites profess to love God, but in works they deny him, being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate. They appear to be lovers of gain, lovers of filthy lucre, more than lovers of God. Justice, even handed justice, will ere long over-[509]take the guilty and fearfulness surprise the hypocrite.   filthy lucre: "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not double tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;" 1 Timothy 3:8
Saints live among hypocrites But the saints of God, brethren, have a heart right towards him, and have a conscience void of offence towards him and towards man. They live among hypocrites and unbelievers truly, surrounded with snares & temptations; without are fightings, within are fears, and all the nameless ills that flesh is heir to; still we trust many will hold on their way and will eventually be welcomed with the pleasing plaudit, "well done good and faithful servants, enter into the joys of your Lord." well done: "His lord said unto him, well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord." Matthew 25:23
Future reward in celestial kingdom And we believe the Lord the righteous Judge, will crown them his, in his celestial kingdom. They truly have to "come up through great tribulation," and when they shall have finished their probationary season, and crossed this tempestuous sea of life, can then take a retrospect on past life and say, "We have fought a good fight, we have finished our course, we have kept the faith," Lord Jesus now receive our spirits. We think "the Lord, the righteous Judge has crowns of glory laid up for all such as love his appearing."   up through great tribulation: "And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Revelation 7:14

fought a good fight: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:" 2 Timothy 4:7
Tribulation here, rewards later Although they have tribulation, pain an anguish here, (if they are not on account of their own sins) "they shall only make them richer there, when they arrive at home."    
Wicked will suffer But the abominable, the disobedient, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, shall have their part where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched.   worm dieth not: "Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Mark 9:44, 46, 48
Don't be discouraged Once more we say to our brethren abroad, be not discouraged, be faithful, we have endeavored in the integrity of our heart, to deal faithfully with you, to warn you of the evils, the snares and temptations that beset and surround the saints here. We have spoken of things which we know, and testified of those which we have seen. Although we have drawn rather a gloomy picture and cast the body of the saints here, into the back ground or rather portrayed them in a sable shade, still we believe we have dealt faithfully with them, and with you, that we have "nothing exaggerated or set down aught in malice."  
We speak honestly If we had hid our own faults, and wickedly deceived you, by painting to your imagination, joys of which you would not participate when you shall arrive here, we should blush with shame when we shall behold your faces. We have been accustomed to speak the truth from our youth up, and we offer it to you, to the saints here, and to the world, with fearless honesty.    
Judgment bar We expect to give an account at the bar of God for all our thoughts, words and actions, and we rather meet the truth, and our numerous readers who shall testify that we have told it plainly, than to have our own conscience accuse us of duplicity, and the Judge of all the earth condemn us for deceiving his people.    
Truth will triumph We know that truth is mighty and will prevail, and that any attempt to suppress or conceal it, will be vain and worse than vain. Saints, real saints of God who have served him with pure hearts, we hope will still continue to love & serve him, & let not the conduct of some of those who are called saints in this place, whether they be in high or low stations, stagger their faith in the pure principles of the gospel; bearing in mind at all times, that such only as endure faithful to the end, have the promise of endless felicity.    
Lord vexing the nation Once more, and in conclusion, we say that there is a great distress and perplexity of this nation. The Lord appears to be vexing the people, or suffering them to be vexed, for their past imprudence, their folly or their wickedness.    
Natural causes, but ... Were we penning a common newspaper article, we would point you to some of the physical causes, but we are not; therefore, we forbear; suffice it to say for our purpose, that trouble is upon this nation, this state, and even this place, and the saints here feel and know that it is so:    
Saints guilty too Why, we ask, are the saints thus afflicted with the wicked? Because they have been guilty of the same things, they have in too many instances pursued the same course, been accessory to a train of circumstances that have produced the same legitimate effects.    
Speculation, dreams of wealth Others have been guilty of wild speculation and visionary dreams of wealth and worldly grandeur, as if gold and silver were their gods, and houses, farms and merchandise their only bliss or their passport to it: so have we.    
Ignore lessons of the past Others have managed their temporal concerns as if they had no precedents upon which to act, or beacons on the page of history or in the annals of by gone years, to light their path. So have we in too many instances.    
Ignore cause and effect Others appear to have neglected, or forgotten, that causes produce effects, and that the same causes, caeteris paribus, produce the same effects. So have the saints here.   caeteris paribus: Other things being equal, other conditions corresponding.
Natural philosophical principles

No respecter of persons
These, you see, are natural philosophical principles, and inasmuch as others have lost sight of them, and plunged themselves into a vortex of ruin, so far as we have followed them or departed from those principles, perplexity and ruin attend us. God is a God of justice and no respecter of persons.    
God punishes He will not visit his people that know his will and do it not, with few stripes.—He will not pass lightly over iniquity, or let the unjust go unpunished. The pulpit and the press should with one accord speak boldly against iniquity, in high places and in low ones.    

Begins at house of God

Reformation needed

Honesty in business

And if judgments are to begin at the house of God, reformation must necessarily begin there also. If we have faith in God, let us in all meekness and humility implore his pardon for our past sins, that his judgments may be averted and his anger be turned away. In our temporal pursuits let us consider that honesty, prudence, economy and industry, are the only sure passports to wealth or competence. That all the faith we may pledge to accomplish temporal business, will avail us nothing aside from correspondent good works or the regular application of those principles that have long since been proven and the results definitely known.

Missouri 1837

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