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1.2.19 Copied Documents, March 31 and April 2, 1842

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Copied Documents • March 31 and April 2, 1842

The following Epistle was read before the Society, early after its organization— but was not forwarded to be recorded; the Secretary not being present at the time of its reading; else it would have appear’d in its proper place.1

To the Hon., the President of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Greeting:

Can the “Female Relief Society of Nauvoo” be trusted with some important matters that ought actually to belong to them to see to, which men have been under the necessity of seeing to, to their chagrin & mortification, in order to prevent iniquitous characters from carrying their iniquity into effect; such, as for instance, a man who may be aspiring after power and authority, and yet without principle,— regardless of God, man, or the devil, or the interest or welfare of man, or the virtue or innocence of woman?

Shall the credulity, good faith, and stedfast feelings of our sisters, for the cause of God or truth, be impos’d upon by believing such men, because they say they have authority from Joseph, or the First Presidency, or any other Presidency of the Church; and thus, with a lie in their mouth, deceive and debauch the innocent, under the assumption that they are authoriz’d from these sources? May God Forbid!

A knowledge of some such things having come to our ears, we improve this [p. [86]] favorable opportunity, wherein so goodly a number of you may be inform’d that no such authority ever has, ever can, or ever will be given to any man, and if any man has been guilty of any such thing, let him be treated with utter contempt, and let the curse of God fall on his head, and let him be turned out of Society as unworthy of a place among men, & denounced as the blackest & the most unprincipled wretch; and finally let him be damned!

We have been informed that some unprincipled men, whose names we will not mention at present, have been guilty of such crimes.2 We do not mention their names, not knowing but what there may be some among you who are not sufficiently skill’d in Masonry as to keep a secret, therefore, suffice it to say, there are those, and we therefore warn you, & forewarn you, in the name of the Lord, to check & destroy any faith that any innocent person may have in any such character; for we do not want any one to believe any thing as coming from us, contrary to the old established morals & virtues & scriptural laws, regulating the habits, customs & conduct of society; and all persons pretending to be authoriz’d by us, or having any permit, or sanction from us, are & will be liars & base impostors, & you are authoriz’d on the very first intimation of the kind, to denounce them as such, & shun them as the flying fiery serpent, whether they are prophets, Seers, or revelators; Patriarchs, twelve Apostles, Elders, Priests, Mayers, Generals, City Councillors, Aldermen, Marshalls, Police, Lord Mayors or the Devil, are alike culpable & shall be damned for such evil practices; and if you yourselves adhere to anything [p. [87]] of the kind, you also shall be damned.

Now beloved Sisters, do not believe for a moment, that we wish to impose upon you, we actually do know that such things have existed in the church, and are sorry to say that we are obliged to make mention of any such thing, and we want a stop put to them, and we desire you to do your part, and we will do ours, for we wish to keep the commandments of God in all things, as given directly from heav’n to us, living by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.

May God add his blessing upon your heads and lead you in all the paths of virtue, piety & peace, that you may be an ornament unto those to whom you belong, and rise up and crown them with honors, & by so doing, you shall be crown’d with honor in heav’n and shall sit upon thrones, judging those over whom you are plac’d in authority, and shall be judg’d of God for all the responsibilities that we confer’d upon you.

At a more convenient and appropriate season, we will give you further information upon this subject.

Let this Epistle be had as a private matter in your Society, and then we shall learn whether you are good masons.

We are your humble Servants in the Bonds of the New & Everlasting Covenant.”—3 Signed by

Hyrum Smith

Joseph Smith, President of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Heber C. Kimball

Willard Richards

Vinson Knights4

Brigham Young, Prest. of the Quorum of the Twelve

P.S. If the Lord be God, serve him; but if baal, then serve him.5 [p. [88]]

Copy of a Certificate, which was also read before the Society, at the same time that the preceding Epistle was presented.

Nauvoo, April 2th 1842.

This is to certify that I never have at any time or place, seen or heard any thing improper or unvirtuous in the conduct or conversation of either President Smith or Mrs. Agnes Smith.

I also certify that I never have reported any thing derogatory to the characters of either of them.

Signed, Clarissa Marvel

X

her mark.6

The foregoing, closes the record of the proceedings of the Female Relief Society during the first year of its organization.

Recorded by

Eliza R. Snow, Secretary.

[p. [89]]

Footnotes

  1. [1]Emma Smith read this letter at the March 31, 1842, meeting of the Relief Society. She said it would “test the ability of the members in keeping secrets; as it was for the benefit of the Society, and that alone.” (Document 1.2, entry for Mar. 31, 1842.)

  2. [2]John C. Bennett, Chauncey Higbee, and other men had been seducing young women by telling them they had God’s sanction through Joseph Smith to do so. (See 67n175 herein; Documents 1.5 and 1.6; and Part 1 introduction.)

  3. [3]The phrase “new and everlasting covenant” appeared in Joseph Smith’s revelations “as synonymous with the ‘fulness of [the] gospel’—the sum total of the church’s message—or with individual elements of it.” (“New and everlasting covenant,” in JSP, J1:469.)

  4. [4]Hyrum Smith was the associate president of the church, Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards were apostles, and Vinson Knight was a bishop in Nauvoo. (“Vinson Knight” and “Ecclesiastical Officers and Church Appointees,” in JSP, J2:470, 506–509.)

  5. [5]See 1 Kings 18:24.

  6. [6]At the Relief Society meeting on April 14, 1842, Sarah Cleveland stated that the “case of Clarissa M. had been satisfactorily settled she having testified in her own hand writing that she had said no wrong,” a reference to this certificate. There appears to be a discrepancy in the dating of this document. The minutes state that it was read before the Relief Society at the same time as the preceding epistle, which was presented on March 31, 1842, but this document is dated April 2, 1842. (Document 1.2, entry for Apr. 14, 1842.)