Copied Documents • March 31 and April 2, 1842
See images of the original document at josephsmithpapers.org.
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. ] 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. ] 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
Joseph Smith, President of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Heber C. Kimball
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. ]
Copy of a Certificate, which was also read before the Society, at the same time that the preceding Epistle was presented.
The foregoing, closes the record of the proceedings of the Female Relief Society during the first year of its organization.
Eliza R. Snow, Secretary.