Letter from Joe Smith.
The following curious epistle has been furnished to us for publication by the gentleman to whom it was written; and we have instructed the printers to "follow copy" in every particular— to make no change, even of a letter or a comma. It is proper to say, perhaps, for the sake of a complete understand-ing, that the letter is in answer to one declining the offer of a commission in the Nauvoo Legion, but waggishly suggesting that an appointment as Gover-nor of Illinois would be acceptable.
The prophet's missive is a strange specimen of mingled shrewdness, ignorance, impudence and folly — the latter quality being chiefly manifested in the fact that the letter has been written. It is not cun-ning of Joe to lay himself out on paper; for surely a man of his divine pretensions should be able to spell and to write grammatically.
NAUVOO, [Ill.] Nov. 13, 1843.
Dear Sir— Your letter of the 24th ult. has been regu-larly received; its contents duly appreciated; and its whole tenor candidly considered; and, according to my manner of judging all things in righteousness, I proceed to answer you, and shall leave you to meditate whether mathematical problems, founded upon the truth of revelation, or religion, as promulgated by me or Moses, can be solved by rules and principles exist-ing in the system of common knowledge.
How far you are "capable of being a most unde-viating friend, without being governed by the smallest religious influence," will best be decided by your sur-vivors, as all past experience most assuredly proves. Without controversy, that friendship which intelligent beings would accept as sincere, must arise from love, and that love grow out of virtue, which is as much a part of religion as light is a part of Jehovah. Hence the saying of Jesus:— Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
You observe: "as I have proved myself to be a philosophical Divine, I must excuse you when you say, that we must leave these influences to the mass." The meaning of "philosophical Divine" may be ta-ken in various ways. If, as the learned world apply the term, you infer that I have achieved a victory, and been strengthened by a scientific religion as practised by the popular sects of the age, through the aid of colleges, seminaries, Bible societies, Missionary boards, financial organizations, and gospel money schemes, then you are wrong; such a combination of men and measures shows a form of godliness without the power; for it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosphy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world, and not after the doctrines of Christ. But if the inference is, that by more love, more light, more virtue and more truth from the Lord, I have succeed-ed as a man of God, then you reason truly, though the weight of the sentiment is lost when the "in-fluence is left to the mass." "Do men gather grapes of thorns or figs of thistles?"
Of course you follow out the figure and say, "the boldness of my plans and measures, together with their unparalleled success, so far, are calculated to throw a charm over my whole being; and to point me out as the most extraordinary man of the present age." The boldness of my plans and measures can readily be tested by the touch stone of all schemes, systems, projects and adventures—truth; for truth is a matter of fact—and the fact is, that by the power of God I translated the books of Mormon from hierogliphics, the knowledge of which was lost to the world. In which wonderful event I stood alone, an unlearned youth, to combat the worldly wisdom and multiplied ignorance of eighteen centuries-with a new revelation, which (if they would receive it) [the everlasting gospel in its fulness] would open the eyes of more than eight hundred millions of people; and make plain the "old paths," wherein if a man walk in all the ordinances of God blameless, he shall inherit eternal life. And Jesus Christ, who was, and is, and is to come, has borne me safely over every snare and plan, laid in secret or openly, through priestly hypocrisy, sectarian prejudice, popular philosophy, executive power, or law defying mobocracy, to destroy me.
If, then, the hand of God in all things that I have accomplished towards the salvation of a priest ridden generation, in the short space of twelve years, through the boldness of the plan of preaching the gospel, and the boldness of the measure of declaring repentance and baptism for the remission of sins; and a reception of the holy Ghost by the lay on of the hands—agreea-ble to the authority of the priesthood, and the still more bold measure of receiving direct revelation from God through the Comforter, as promised, and by which means all holy men, from ancient times until now, have spoken and revealed the will of God to men; with the consequent "success" of the gathering of the saints, throws any "charm" over my being, and "points me out as the most extraordinary man of the age;" it demonstrates the fact that truth is mighty and will prevail! and that one man empowered from Jehovah, has more influence with the children of the kingdom than eight hundred millions lead by the pre-cepts of men! God exalts the humble and teases the haughty.
But let me assure you, in the name of Jesus, who spake as never man spake, that the "boldness of the plans and measures," as you term them, but which should be denominated the righteousness of the cause, the truth of the system and the power of God, which “so far" has borne me and the church (in which I glory in having the privilege of being a member) suc-cessfully through the storm of reproach, folly, ig-norance, malice, persecution, falsehood, sacerdotal wrath, newspaper satire, pamphlet libels, and the combined influence of the powers of earth and hell, I say these powers of righteousness and truth, are not the decrees and rules of an ambitions and aspiring Nimrod, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander, Ma-homet, Buonaparte, or other great sounding heroes, that dazzled forth with a trail of pomp and circum-stances, for a little season, like a comet, and then dis-appeared, leaving a wide waste where such an exist-ence once was, with only a mame! Nor were the glorious results of what you term "boldness of plans and measures," with the attendant "success," matu-red by the self-aggrandizing wisdom of the priests of Baal; the Scribes and pharasees of the Jews; Popes and bishops of Christendom, or pagans of Juggernaut, nor were they extended by the divisions and subdivi-sions of a Luther, a Calvin, a Wesley or even a Camp-bell, supported by a galaxy of clergymen and church-men, of whatever name or nature; bound apart by cast Iron creeds, and fastened to set stakes by chain cable opinions, without revelation; nor are they the lions of the land, or leviathans of sea, moving among the elements as distant chimeras to fatten the fancy of the infidel. But they are as the stone cut out of the moun-tain without hands, and will become a great moun-tain and fill the whole earth.
Were I an Egyptian I would exclaim, --- (fah-oh-eh Emish-go-on dosh-Flos-ees Flos-isis;) a He-brew, --- ---; a Greek, --- ---; a Ro-man, Dominus regit me; a German, --- ---; a Portuguee, Senor Jesu Christo e liberdade; a Frenchman, Dieu defend le droit.* But as I am, I give God the glory, and say in the beautiful figure of the poet—
Could we with Ink the ocean fill;
Was the whole earth of parchment made;
And every single stick a quill;
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the whole, upon a scroll,
Be spread from sky to sky.
It seems that your mind is of such "a philosophical and mathematical cast that the divinity of Moses makes no impression upon you, and that I will not be offended when you say that you rate me higher as a legislature than you do Moses, because you have me present with you, for examination;" that Moses derives his chief authority from prescription and the lapse of time; you cannot however say, but we are both right, it being out of the power of man to prove us wrong. It is no mathematical problem, and can therefore get no mathematical solution."
Now, sir, to cut the matter short, and not dally with your learned ideas, for fashions sake, you have here given your opinion, without reserve, that revelation, the knowledge of God, prophetic vision, the truth of eternity, cannot be solved as a mathematical problem.
The first question then is, what is a mathematical problem?—and the natural answer is, a statement, proposition, or question that can be solved, ascertain- , unfolded, or demonstrated, by knowledge, facts or ures: for "mathematical" is an adjective, derived from — [gr.] meaning, in English, learning, or knowledge. "Problem" is derived from probleme, French, or problema, Latin, Italian or Spanish, and in each language means a question or proposition, whether true or false. "Solve" is derived from the Latin verb solvo, to explain or answer. One thing more:—in order to prove the work as we proceed, it is necessary to have witnesses, two or three of whose testimonies, according to the laws or rules of God and man, are sufficient to establish any one point.
Now for the questions. How much is one and one? Two. How much is one from two? One.—Very well:—one question or problem is solved by fi-gures. Now let me ask one for facts. Was there ever such a place on earth as Egypt? Geography say yes, ancient history says yes, and the bible says yes. So three witnesses have solved that question.—Again:— Lived there ever such a man as Moses in Egypt? The same witnesses reply certainly. And was he a prophet? The same witnesses, or a part, have left on record that Moses predicted in Leviticus that if Israel broke the covenant they had made, the Lord would scatter them among the nations until the land enjoyed her Sabbaths; and subsequently these witnesses have testified of their captivity in Babylon and other places, in fulfilment. But to make assu-rance doubly sure, Moses prays that the ground might open and swallow up Korah and his company for transgression, and it was so. And he endorses the prophecy of Balaam, which said, "Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, and shall de-stroy him that remaineth of the city"—and Jesus Christ, "as him that had dominion," about 1500 years after, according to this prediction and that of Moses, David, Isaiah and many others, came, saying, "Mo-ses wrote of me," declaring the dispersion of the Jews, and the utter distruction of "the city," and the apostles were his witnesses [unimpeached,] es-pecially Jude, who not only endorses the facts of Mo-ses " divinity," but also the events of Balaam and Korah, with many others, AS TRUE. Besides these tangible facts, so easily proven and demonstrated, by simple rules, and testimony unimpeached, the art [now lost,] of embalming human bodies and preserv-ing them in the catacombs of Egypt, whereby men women and children, as mummies, after a lapse of near 3500 years, thus come forth among the living and altho DEAD, the papyrus which has lived in their bosoms unharmed speaks for them in a language like the sound of an earthquake— Ecce Veritas! ecce cadaveros! Behold the truth! behold the mummies! Oh! my dear sir, the sunken Tyre and Sidon, the melancholly dust where "the city" of Jerusalem once was, and the mourning of the Jews among the na-tions, together with such a "cloud of witnesses” if you had been as well acquainted with your God and bible as with your “purse and pence table,” the “divinity of Moses” would have dispelled the fog of 5000 years and filled you with light; for facts, like diamonds, not only cut glass, but they are the most things on earth. The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.
The world at large is ever ready to credit the wri-tings of Homer, Hesiod, Plutarch, Socrates, Pythago-ras, Virgil, Josephus, Mahomet, and many others, but where, tell me where, have they left a line—a sim-ple method of solving the truth of the plan of eter-nal life? Says the Savior—"if any man will do his [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself." Here, then, is a method of solving the “divinity" of men by the "divinity" in yourself, that as far ex-ceeds the calculations by numbers as the sun excels a candle. Would to God that all men understood it, and were willing to be governed by it, that when one had filled the measure of his days, he could exclaim like Jesus, "Veni mori, et reviviscere!" Your good wishes "to go ahead" coupled with Mahomet and a "right man," are rather more vain than virtuous.-Why, sir, Caesar had his right hand Brutus who was his left hand assassin!—not, however, applying the allusion to you.
As to the private seal you mention, if sent to me I shall receive it with the gratitude of a servant of God, and pray that the donor may receive a reward in the resurrection of the Just.
The summit of your future fame seems to live in the political policy of a "mathematical problem," for the chief majestracy of this state, which, I suppose might be solved by double position, where the errors of the supposition are used to produce the true answer. But, sir, when I leave the dignity and honor I receiv-ed from heaven, to boost a man into power, through the aid of my friends, when the evil and designing, af-ter the object has been accomplished, can lock up the clemency intended as a reciprocation for such favors; and where the wicked and unprincipled, as a matter of course, would seize the opportunity to flintify the heart of the nation against me for dabbling in a sly game in politics, verily, I say, when I leave the dig-nity and honor of heaven, to gratify the ambition of man, or men, may my power cease like the strength of Samson when shorn of his locks while asleep in the lap of Delilah. Truly said the Savior; Cast not your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. Shall I, who have witnessed the visions of eternity; and beheld the glories of the mansions of bliss; and regions and misery of the damned; Shall I turn to be a Ju-das? Shall I, who have heard the voice of God, and communed with angels; and spake as moved by the holy Ghost, for the renewal of the everlasting cove-nant, and for the gathering of Israel in the last days, shall I worm myself into a political hypocrite? Shall I, who hold the keys of the last kingdom in which is the dispensation of the fulness of all things, spoken by the mouths of all the holy prophets since the world began; under the sealing power of the Melchisedek priesthood; shall I stoop from the sublime authority of Almighty God to be handled as a monkey's cats paw—and pettify myself unto a clown to act the farce of political demagoguery? No, verily no! The whole earth shall bear me witness, that I, like the towering
*Where we have inserted dashes in the preceding lines Joe has displayed his learning by putting down sundry hieroglyphical characters, which may or may not be Egyp-ian Hebrew, Greek and German,
Rock in the midst of the ocean, which has w tood the mighty surgers of the warring waves for ce ries, am impregnable, and am a faithful friend to tue, and a fearless foe to vice: No odds whethe he for-mer was sold as a pearl in Asia, or hid as a ge in A-merica; and the latter dazzles in palaces, or glimmers among the tombs. .
I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the Gordian knot of powers; and I solve "mathematical problems" of Universities, with TRUTH, diamond truth, and God is my right hand man!
And to close, let me say in the name of Jesus Christ, to you and to presidents, emperors, governors, rulers, nobles, and men in authority, every where, do the works of righteousness; execute justice and judg-ment in the earth, that God may bless you, and her in-habitants; and
The laurel that grows on the top of the mountain,
Shall green for your fame while the sun sheds a ray;
And the lily that blooms by the side of the fountain,
Will bloom for your virtue till earth melts away.
With due respect, I have the honor to be, your ob't serv't, JOSEPH SMITH.
P. S. The court martial will attend to your case in the Nauvoo Legion.
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