The spirit of God moves upon me to send forth this epistle unto you. It is wisdom in God that these facts which I give you have not been made generally known long ago. But now the Spirit of God has made it manifest to me to make them known. The time is at hand to prepare for the day when the gospel will go to the house of Israel! It has been made known to me that when the gospel goes to the remnant of Jacob (the Lamanites), it must go to them as Christ has given it to us, the fullness of which is in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. I know that the Latter Day Saints are teaching some errors in doctrine, and I hope to convince the honest in heart among them of this fact. The commands of God are strict, and his word is yea, yea, and nay, nay. It is a serious thing for man to add doctrines to the doctrine which Christ has taught in his word. Christ has taught that it is necessary to be abiding in his doctrine, and whosoever teaches more or less than the doctrine which he has taught in his word, is not of Him. He has taught but one doctrine. I do not mean to judge or condemn the Latter Day Saints. God is the judge. But I will speak the truth as the Spirit of God moves upon me to speak it, and I hope and pray that many will heed the truth — that they will lay aside all error, and come in upon the doctrine of Christ, as it is taught in the written word. I believe that the Latter Day Saints who are opposed to polygamy have done a great work and great good. I believe they have done a great work in carrying forth the Book of Mormon. We cannot always understand God’s ways of dealing with his people. God suffers men to be led into error because of their blindness of heart. He works with men only according to their faith and obedience; but now the Spirit of God is moving upon the Elders of the Church of Christ to go forth unto all the believers in the Book of Mormon, and unto all other people, crying repentance, and calling on them to heed to the teachings of Christ. I do not mean to persecute Joseph the translator of the Book of Mormon. I love him, and I love Joseph his son, and believe him to be a good man. Joseph, like many of those of old whom God had chosen, fell into error; and why should we want to follow any man into error? Should we put our trust in an arm of flesh? Nay, verily!
There never lived but one perfect man, and that was Christ; and he is our only law-giver. Therefore we should take great heed and compare with the “written word” all doctrines, and laws and revelations coming through any man, for any man can fall into error and lead every one into error who trusts in man. God chooses the weak things of this world, so that man should not put their trust in man and make flesh their arm, but put their trust in God only. It is just, in God’s wisdom, that every one who is not living sufficiently spiritual to discern between truth and error, should be led into error. God called Saul and many others of old who afterward fell into error and lost the Spirit, knowing that they would fall, so as to let every one be led into error by them who had such little faith in God as to make a man their God, and trust in “an arm of flesh,” instead of putting their whole faith and trust in God only, and heeding Him only. God suffered them to be led into error because of their transgressions and lack of faith in Him. Christ has spoken, and the voice of God has declared from the heavens: “Hear ye him!” His teachings in the Book of Mormon and the New Testament are the same.
But the Latter Day Saints have another book of doctrine — the “Doctrine and Covenants” — in which are the doctrines that Christ never taught to the “twelve” at Jerusalem, nor to the “twelve” upon this continent. The Latter Day Saints believe these new doctrines, which do not agree with the teachings of Christ. Why do they believe them? Because they are putting too much trust in a man! This has been the mistake of God’s people in all ages past. Read the scriptures and observe how very soon the great majority of God’s people always fell into error by trusting in man. Men who were humble when God chose them, but afterward fell into error. If men do not live near enough to God to discern error when it comes — and it may appear as an angel of light — (for instance, polygamy) — God suffers them to be led into error because of their transgressions. See how many of the prophets whom God called afterward fell into error. Saul, David, Solomon, and many prophets in Israel.
Now, I do not judge, nor say whether Saul, David, Solomon, or Joseph will be saved or lost. These are all in the hands of a just God. Perhaps the errors of David were more grievous than those of Joseph. Now I hope you understand me. I am not persecuting Brother Joseph, and never did persecute him. Because he erred is no reason why I should not love him. God called him to translate his sacred word by the power and gift of God; but he was not called to set up and establish the church any more than any of us Elders were. This will I prove conclusively later on, from evidence which you are bound to accept.
The “CHOICE SEER,” spoken of in the Book of Mormon is not Brother Joseph. I will give you here a brief outline concerning this “Choice Seer” who is yet to come forth. The man who is not learned (in 2 Nephi xi:18), refers to Brother Joseph, but the “Choice Seer” (in 2 Nephi ii) is another man. He is to come from the Lamanites. He is to come from the fruit of the loins of Joseph (of Egypt), that seed being the “branch which was to be broken off” at Jerusalem, to whom this land was consecrated for their inheritance forever — being Lehi and his seed; Lehi’s seed being little Joseph, who received the blessing from his father Lehi, that his seed should not be utterly destroyed; for out of his seed which should not all be destroyed (the Indians) should come to this “Choice Seer.” This is the interpretation of this chapter. This “Choice Seer” will be of that seed. His name will be Joseph, and his father’s name Joseph. He is to translate sealed records yet to come forth, (spoken of in 2 Nephi xi:18). “And not to the bringing forth my word only, saith the Lord, BUT TO THE CONVINCING THEM OF MY WORD.” How many Indians did Brother Joseph convince? He never preached a sermon to them in his life to my knowledge. May God help you brethren to understand this chapter, for it can only be understood by the enlightening power of the Holy Ghost. It is very plain to me. I speak in full on this subject in chapter X.
I want to say to the Latter Day Saints, that the elders of the Church of Christ, in coming to them, come to them as their brethren, in love and in meekness. God forbid that we should persecute you, who have likewise taken upon yourselves the “shame of Christ” in this age of the world — which shame, in the eyes of the world, is believing the Book of Mormon. No; we love you, and by the help of God we will labor, trusting that the day is not far distant when the honest in heart among you, and among all believers in the Book of Mormon, and the world, may all be one with us upon the doctrine of Christ, working by the power and gifts of God to prepare the way for the gospel to go to the House of Israel. God only knows how I have grieved and suffered and plead with him for you for the past forty-eight years, that you might repent and be enlightened by the Holy Ghost to see the errors in which you have been led. To God belongs the mystery of his dealings with his people; he is allwise, and his ways are not man’s ways. Mormon stood alone for many years, when the whole church of Nephites and Lamanites had every one gone into error and transgression. He stood alone, holding the authority, and prayed to God continually that he might go to them and preach to them; but the Lord forbid him to preach to them. Then let no man judge hastily as to my authority, lest he judge wrongly and continue in error; but go to God in prayer and fasting, and find out the truth, for the Holy Ghost will guide you into all truth. If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to “separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them.” In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors I received only persecutions. In June, 1838, at Far West, Mo., a secret organization was formed, Doctor Avard being put in as the leader of the band; a certain oath was to be administered to all the brethren to bind them to support the heads of the church in everything they should teach. All who refused to take this oath were considered dissenters from the church, and certain things were to be done concerning these dissenters, by Dr. Avard’s secret band. I make no farther statements now; but suffice it to say that my persecutions, for trying to show them their errors, became of such a nature that I had to leave the Latter Day Saints; and, as I rode on horseback out of Far West, in June, 1838, the voice of God from heaven spake to me as I have stated above. I was called out to hold the authority which God gave to me.
I see from a letter written by the heads of the church, while they were in Liberty Jail, that they repented while in jail of having anything to do with this secret organization, and came out again Dr. Avard, declaring it all wickedness, and resolved to henceforth disapprobate everything that was not according to the gospel, and which was not of a bold, frank and upright nature. I quote from this letter, printed in the Times and Seasons, July, 1840:
“We farther caution our brethren against the impropriety of the organization of bands or companies, by covenants, oaths, penalties, or secrecies; but let the time past of our experience and suffering by the wickedness of Dr. Avard suffice. And let our covenants be that of the everlasting covenant, as it is contained in the Holy Writ, and the things which God has revealed unto us. Pure friendship always becomes weakened the very moment you undertake to make it stronger by penal oaths and secrecy. Your humble servants intend FROM HENCEFORTH to disapprobate everything that is not in accordance with the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and which is not of a bold, frank and upright nature.”
They were put in jail in November, after I had left them. Now you see why I left the Latter Day Saints. After I left them they say they gave me a trial and cut me off. About the same time that I came out, the Spirit of God moved upon quite a number of the brethren who came out, with their families. All of the eight witnesses who were then living (except the three Smiths) came out; Peter and Christian Whitmer were dead. Oliver Cowdery came out also. Martin Harris was then in Ohio. The church went deeper and deeper into wickedness. They were driven out of Missouri, and went to Nauvoo; and were driven out of Nauvoo, and went to Salt Lake, where they are to-day, believing in the doctrine of polygamy. Nearly all the members at Nauvoo went to Salt Lake. Only a very few rejected the revelation on polygamy. The Reorganization is built up principally of members — not of the old church — but new converts. The majority of those who did not go to Salt Lake are in the Reorganized Church to-day.
Many of the Reorganized Church have wondered why I have stood apart from them. Brethren, I will here tell you why. God commanded me by his own voice to stand apart from you. Many of you think that I have desire to lead — to lead a church that believe as I do. I have no such desire. A one-man leader to the church is not the teachings of Christ. After Brother Joseph was killed, many came to me and importuned me to come out and be their leader; but I refused. With these statements, so you will understand me, I will proceed to show you how the heads of the church went into one error after another. I followed them into many errors in doctrine, which the Lord has since shown me, and which errors I have confessed and repented of, and will speak of in this pamphlet.
I am not preaching self-justification from being in errors in doctrine in the past. It is since 1847 that I have been shown all the errors into which I had followed the heads of the church, and that when God’s own due time came for building up the waste places of Zion, the Church of Christ must be established on the teachings of Christ, which teachings in their purity are in the new covenant of the Book of Mormon, and come forth to us to settle all disputations about doctrine, because many plain and precious things have been taken from the record of the Jews, and on all doctrinal points — order of the church offices, etc. — we must rely upon it.
Christ commanded the Nephites to write his teachings, for they were to come down to us as the fullness of his gospel to us.
And why is it? Oh, why is it that you will not take the words of Christ himself, and lay down your contentions and disputations, taking his plain, simple teachings which he has given us in that book? As you know, the teachings of Christ are the same in the New Testament and in the Book of Mormon; but on account of the plain and precious things being taken from the Bible, there is room therein for disputations on some doctrinal points; but the teachings of Christ in the Book of Mormon are pure, plain, simple and full. Christ chose “twelve” and called them disciples or elders, not apostles, and the “twelve” ordained elders, priests, and teachers. These are all the spiritual offices in the Church of Christ, and their duties are plainly given. The manner of baptism, and the manner of administering the flesh and blood of Christ, and everything pertaining to the Church of Christ is plainly set forth in the fullness of the gospel, as I will show you in this epistle.
Of course I do not mean to place one book ahead of the other. I am also called to bear witness that the Bible is true. The angel who declared unto us that the Book of Mormon was true, also declared unto us that the Bible was true. They are both the Word of God, and as it is prophesied, they both shall be one.
Concerning the question of my authority to administer in the ordinances of the Church of Christ, I have this to say: As I have stated, I was called out to hold the authority that God gave to me. I am not judging as to whose authority was good, or whose authority was not good. I am not judging as to any man’s authority now to act in the church he is in, he has authority to act in the church he is in: but the Lord has made it known to me that no man has authority to act in “the Church of Christ,” without being adopted therein according to the gospel of Christ.
I believe there are many honest hearts among all the orders of Latter Day Saints, and many in all churches, and in the world, that will yet come to a knowledge ofthe truth. Many of you believe, that because some of the spiritual gifts are with you, therefore you must be in the true doctrine of Christ; but this does not follow. The “signs” are produced in a believer by his faith. Some of the signs have been with all the factions who believe the Book of Mormon. If you have not charity, the signs will profit you nothing. Christ said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you.” (Matt. vii:22-23.) No, brethren! do not think that because some of the spiritual gifts are with a church, that that church cannot be in error by teaching more or less than the doctrine of Christ.