Appendix 2: Letter to the Saints Scattered Abroad, June 1835
JS, , , and , Letter, [, Geauga Co., OH], to “the Saints scattered abroad,” June 1835. Featured version published in the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, June 1835, pp. 137–138. For more complete source information on the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, see the source note for Letter to Oliver Cowdery, Dec. 1834.
On 1 June 1835, JS, , , and wrote a letter to , the president of the in , Missouri, chastising Burk for conducting a disciplinary council in the absence of the and . The letter featured here is an edited version of that letter and was published in the June 1835 issue of the Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate, attributed to “P.” “P” referred to Phelps, who made several additions and changes to the letter before its publication. Some of these changes clarified the meanings of certain phrases; other changes made the published version more polished than the original letter. Phelps also made substantial additions, including an introductory paragraph admonishing the Saints to show love toward each other. It is unclear from extant records whether JS directed Phelps to make the changes or whether Phelps acted on his own, though a later JS history states that JS “caused” the letter to be published. Shading in gray in the featured text indicates the parts of the published letter that are the same as the original.
The original letter was addressed “to the Elders , , and members of the ” A notation on the letter directed that it be copied and given to “each grade of officers” in . The published version is addressed more broadly “to the Saints scattered abroad,” which phrase generally referred to church members living outside of Missouri or , Ohio. Since the letter included general instructions on the roles of elders, priests, teachers, and deacons, church leaders evidently wanted it to receive a wider circulation.
The June 1835 issue of the Messenger and Advocate—the first one published after Phelps arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, from Missouri—is the first issue that has text attributed to “P.” Several issues thereafter have the same designation. It is evident that “P” is Phelps because a hymn authored by Phelps and published in the October 1835 Messenger and Advocate was also signed “P.” (“Hymns,” LDS Messenger and Advocate, Oct. 1835, 2:208; see also Cornwall, Stories of our Mormon Hymns, 136–137.)
Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate. Kirtland, OH. Oct. 1834–Sept. 1837.
Cornwall, J. Spencer. Stories of Our Mormon Hymns. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1971.
Phelps likely composed the original letter as well, although it was signed by JS, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Phelps. Phelps later referred to a letter that “had checked the Elders in their crusade for exaltation”—apparently this letter—calling it “my letter.” (William W. Phelps, Kirtland, OH, to Sally Waterman Phelps, Liberty, MO, 20 July 1835, in Historical Department, Journal History of the Church, 20 July 1835.)
Historical Department. Journal History of the Church, 1896–. CHL. CR 100 137.
JS History / Smith, Joseph, et al. History, 1838–1856. Vols. A-1–F-1 (original), A-2–E-2 (fair copy). Historian’s Office, History of the Church, 1839–ca. 1882. CHL. CR 100 102, boxes 1–7. The history for the period after 5 Aug. 1838 was composed after the death of Joseph Smith.
Dear Brethren:—It is a duty which every saint ought to render to his brethren freely—to always love them, and ever succor them. To be justified before God we must love one another: we must overcome evil; we must visit the fatherless and the widow in their affliction, and we must keep ourselves unspotted from the world: for such virtues flow from the great fountain of pure religion. Strengthening our faith by adding every good quality that adorns the children of the blessed Jesus, we can pray in the season of prayer; we can love our neighbor as ourselves, & be faithful in tribulation, knowing that the reward of such is greater in the kingdom of heaven. What a consolation! What a joy! Let me live the life of the righteous, and let my reward be like his!
According to the order of the kingdom begun in the last days, to prepare men for the rest of the Lord, the in , or in her immediate region, have no authority or right, to meddle with her spiritual affairs, to regulate her concerns, or hold for the expulsion of members, in her unorganized condition. The has been expressly organized to administer in all her spiritual affairs; and the and his , are set over her [p. 137]