For those who are wondering, I have been somewhat absence from blogging recently because I have been engaged in writing a book about the intercessory offering and atonement of Joseph Smith. This project has taken much of my time and energy because I believe an understanding of Joseph’s atonement is essential to comprehending true LDS history and what is about to transpire prior to Christ’s return in glory to the earth. My goal is to write something that is accessible to the average reader and takes them through the various historical facts and scriptural evidences in a logical and readable format. The challenge in taking up this project is that much effort must be expended to clear the ground of the traditions of men that impede the average latter-day saint from seeing what is so very clear to those who have taken up the charge to search diligently. Imparting years of searching into a book that can be read in 2 hours is a daunting task. Ultimately, I believe, only those who are willing to search under the influence of the Holy Ghost will actually “get it” in the end. Regardless, I feel compelled to proceed.
One falsehood encumbering the ground of Mormon history revolves around the Nauvoo Expositor and the “lies” that were supposedly perpetuated by the one and only edition of that publication. As we know, the destruction of the press set in motion a series of events ultimately resulting in Joseph’s death at Carthage. I recently read a blog which quoted the primary manual for teaching children in church as saying “Some enemies of the church believed that if they got rid of Joseph Smith, the church would fall apart. These men started a newspaper in which they told many vicious lies about Joseph. (Primary Manual 5, Lesson 37).
This is quite a bold assertion by the church, and so this blogger challenged readers to expose the vicious lies of the Nauvoo Expositor with the promise of $50 to anyone who could clearly demonstrate something asserted in the paper was a lie. Several people came forward with assertions of lies, all of which were easily rebutted from historical evidence.
I recently spent considerable time reading and studying that document. I made a point to pick up a reproduction of the original print copy at Joseph’s red brick store (owned and operated by the Community of Christ, formerly the RLDS) when I visited Nauvoo some months back. Praise the Lord that he entrusted some of those key historical sites to the CoC for preservation over the years, including the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible which sheds incredible light on important doctrines relative to our day, including the doctrine of the three watches.
As an aside, the Masonic Hall, owned and operated by the LDS church in Nauvoo has been renamed the “Cultural Hall” and presented as a place for cultural entertainment. Upstairs where masonic temple rituals were enacted, the church has placed quilts, furniture and clothing appropriate for the time period. Having heard that there was a worn circle in the floor in the center of the room from the masonic ritual, I looked to see if it was there only to discover that a heavy rug had been tacked to the floor. I tried to lift the rug when beyond the gaze of the tour guide sister missionaries but was disappointed in my attempts although I could feel what appeared to be an indented worn surface as I stepped on the floor, but I couldn’t be sure. Amazing how subtle changes over time in our history become articles of faith to future generations.
In my opinion, the Nauvoo Expositor is required reading for all who seek to know what was going on in Nauvoo as opposed to blindly accepting the LDS narrative of enemies perpetuating vicious lies. On the contrary, when you understand the motives of the publishers it was to effect a reformation in the church — a return to the true doctrines originally taught when the saints had the fulness and were seeking to establish Zion. William Law, former member of the First Presidency, was the principal actor in the Nauvoo Expositor drama, but was also assisted by his brother, Wilson, a Brigadier General in the Nauvoo Legion, Francis Higbee, Chauncey Higbee, Charles Foster and Robert Foster among others.
William Law, whose photo you see above, was a late-comer to the restoration movement. He joined the church in 1836, some years after the rejection of the fulness by the Gentiles, and following the pentecostal experiences in Kirtland. He also missed the turmoil in Kirtland with the Safety Society debacle as he was in Canada, finally moving to Nauvoo with a group of Canadian converts in 1839. He was called to the First Presidency in 1841.
Over time, he became troubled by certain teachings and practices of Smith, most prominently celestial polygamy, which ultimately lead to his being dropped as a counselor to Joseph in proceedings that he considered did not comport with proper and legal procedure within the church. It is clear from the Expositor that William had sought to get Joseph to admit publicly that he had erred with regards to the polygamy doctrine, something Joseph was unwilling to do.
I am only going to include here a few excerpts from the Expositor to whet your appetite. You can see a full transcription of the text here.
We all verily believe, and many of us know of a surety, that the religion of the Latter Day Saints, as originally taught by Joseph Smith, which is contained in the Old and New Testaments, Book of Covenants, and Book of Mormon, is verily true; and that the pure principles set forth in those books, are the immutable and eternal principles of Heaven, and speaks a language which, when spoken in truth and virtue, sinks deep into the heart of every honest man.–Its precepts are invigorating, and in every sense of the word, tend to dignify and ennoble man’s conceptions of God and his atributes [sic].
We are earnestly seeking to explode the vicious principles of Joseph Smith, and those who practice the same abominations and whoredoms; which we verily know are not accordant and consonant with the principles of Jesus Christ and the Apostles; and for that purpose, and with that end in view, with an eye single to the glory of God, we have dared to gird on the armor, and with God at our head, we most solemnly and sincerely declare that the sword of truth shall not depart from the thigh, nor the buckler from the arm, until we can enjoy those glorious privileges which nature’s God and our country’s laws have guarantied to us-freedom of speech, the liberty of the press, and the right to worship God as seemeth us good.-We are aware, however, that we are hazarding every earthly blessing, particularly property,and probably life itself, in striking this blow at tyranny and oppression: yet notwithstanding we most solemnly declare that no man, or set of men combined, shall, with impunity, violate obligations as sacred as many which have been violated unless reason, justice and virtue have become ashamed and sought the haunts of the grave, though our lives be the forfeiture.
Many of us have sought a reformation in the church, without a public exposition of the enormities of crimes practiced by its leaders, thinking that if they would hearken to counsel, and shew fruit meet for repentance, it would be as acceptable with God, as though they were exposed to public gaze, “For the private path, the secret acts of men, If noble, for the noblest of their lives,” but our petitions were treated with contempt; and in many cases the petitioner spurned from their presence and particularly by Joseph, who would state that if he had sinned, and was guilty of the charges we would charge him with, he would not make acknowledgment, but would rather be damned; for it would detract from his dignity, and would consequently ruin and prove the overthrow of the Church. We would ask him on the other hand, if the overthrow of the Church was not inevitable, to which he often replied, that we would all go to Hell together, and convert it into a heaven, by casting the Devil out; and says lie, Hell is by not means the place this world of fools suppose it to be, but on the contrary, it is quite an agreeable place: to which we would now reply, he can enjoy it he is determined not to desist from his evil ways; but as for us, and ours, we will serve the Lord our God!
It is absurd for men to assert that all is well, while wicked and corrupt men are seeking our destruction, by a perversion of sacred things; for all is not well, while whordoms and all manner of abominations are practiced under the cloak of religion. Lo! the wolf is in the fold, arrayed in sheep’s clothing, and is spreading death and devastation among the saints: and we say to the watchmen standing upon the walls, cry aloud and spare not, for the day of the Lord is at hand-a day cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate.
It is a notorious fact, that many females in foreign climes, and in countries to us unknown, even in the most distant regions of the Eastern hemisphere, have been induced, by the sound of the gospel, to forsake friends, and embark upon a voyage across waters that lie stretched over the greater portion of the globe, as they supposed, to glorify God, that they might thereby stand acquitted in the great day of God Almighty. But what is taught them on their arrival at this place?- They are visited by some of the Strikers, for we know not what else to call them, and are requested to hold on and be faithful, for there are great blessings awaiting the righteous; and that God has great mysteries in store for those who love the lord, and cling to brother Joseph. They are also notified that Brother Joseph will see them soon, and reveal the mysteries of Heaven to their full understanding, which seldom fails to inspire them with new confidence in the Prophet, as well as a great anxiety to know what God has laid up in store for them, in return for the great sacrifice of father of mother, of gold and silver, which they gladly left far behind, that they might be gathered into the fold, and numbered among the chosen of God.–They are visited again, and what is the result? They are requested to meet brother Joseph, or some of the Twelve, at some insulated point, or at some particularly described place on the bank of the Mississippi, or at some room, which wears upon its front–Positively NO Admittance. The harmless, inoffensive, and unsuspecting creatures, are so devoted to the Prophet, and the cause of Jesus Christ, that they do not dream of the deep laid and fatal scheme which prostrates happiness, and renders death itself desirable; but they meet him, expecting to receive through him a blessing, and learn the will of the Lord concerning them, and what awaits the faithful follower of Joseph, the Apostle and Prophet of God, When in the stead thereof, they are told, after having been sworn in one of the most solemn manners, to never divulge what is revealed to them, with a penalty of death attached that God Almighty has revealed it to him, that she should be his (Joseph’s) Spiritual wife; for it was right anciently,and God will tolerate it again: but we must keep those pleasures and blessings form the world, for until there is a change in the government, we will endanger ourselves by practicing it-but we can enjoy the blessings of Jacob, David, and others, as well as to be deprived of them, if we do not expose ourselves to the law of the land. She is thunder-struck, faints recovers, and refuses. The Prophet damns her if she rejects. She thinks of the great sacrifice and of the many thousand miles she has traveled over sea and land, that she might save her soul from pending ruin, and replies, God’s will be done and not mine. The Prophet and his devotees in this way are gratified.
Our hearts have mourned and bled at the wretched and miserable condition of females in this place; many orphans have been the victims of misery and wretchedness, through the influence, that has been exerted over them, under the cloak of religion and afterwards, in consequence of that jealous disposition which predominates over the minds of some, have been turned upon a wide world, fatherless and motherless, destitute of friends and fortune; and robbed of that which nothing but death can restore.
It is difficult–perhaps impossible–to describe the wretchedness of females in this place, without wounding the feelings of the benevolent, or shocking the delicacy of the refined; but the truth shall come to the world. The remedy can never be applied, unless the disease is known. The sympathy, ever anxious to relieve, cannot be felt before the misery is seen.–The charity that kindles at the tale of woe, can never act with adequate efficiency, till it is made to see the pollution and guilt of men, now buried in the death-shades of heathenism.–Shall we then, however painful the sight, shrink from the contemplation of their real state? We answer, we will not, if permitted to live. As we have before stated, it is the vicious principles of men we are determined to explode. It is not that we have any private feelings to gratify, or any private pique to settle, that has induced us to be thus plain; for we can respect and love the criminal, if there is any hope of reformation: but there is a point beyond which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
The next important item which presents itself for our consideration, is the attempt at Political power and influence, which we verity believe to be preposterous and absurd. We believe, it is inconsistent, and not in accordance with the christian religion. We do not believe that God ever raised up a Prophet to christianize a world by political schemes and intrigue. It is not the way God captivates the heart of the unbeliever; but on the contrary, by preaching truth in its own native simplicity, and in its own original purity, unadorned with anything except its own indigenous beauties. Joseph may plead he has been injured, abused, and his petitions treated with contempt by the general government, and that he only desires an influence of a political character that will warrant him redress of grievances; but we care not-the faithful followers of Jesus must bear in this age as well as Christ and the Apostles did anciently; although a frowning world may have crushed him to the dust; although unpitying friends may have passed him by; although hope, the great comforter in affliction, may have burst forth and fled from his troubled bosom; yet, in Jesus there is a balsom for every wound, and a cordial to assuage an agonized mind.
Among the many items of false doctrine that are taught the Church, is the doctrine of many Gods, one of the most direful in its effects that has characterized the world for many centuries. We know not what to call it other than blasphemy, for it is most unquestionably, speaking of God in an impious and irreverent manner. It is contended that there are innumerable gods as much above the God that presides over this universe, as he is above us; and if he varies from the law unto which he is subjected, he, with all his creatures, will be cast down as was Lucifer: thus holding forth a doctrine which is effectually calculated to sap the very foundation of our faith, and now, O Lord! shall we set still and be silent, while thy name is thus blasphemed, and thine Honor, power and glory, brought into disrepute? See Isaiah c 43, v 10; 44, 6-8; 45, 5,6, 21, 22; and book of Covenants, page 26 and 39.
It was in Rome, and about the twelfth century, when Pope Innocent III, ordered father Dominic to excite the Catholic princes and people to extirpate heretics. But it is in this enlightened and intelligent nineteenth century, and in Nauvoo–a place professing to be the nucleus o the world, that Joseph Smith has established an inquisition, which, if it is suffered to exist, will prove more formidable and terrible to those who are found opposing the iniquities of Joseph and his associates, than ever the Spanish inquisiton did to heretics as they termed them.
You get the idea. William has a way with words and he doesn’t mince them! It appears that the publication of the Expositor was a last resort after having attempted to get Joseph to return to the purity of the gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in the scriptures, cease his teachings on polygamy and refrain from the abuses of power he was perpetuating. Of course, Joseph declined to do so, even though there is evidence he recognized that he had been deceived with respect to polygamy and sought to move away from those practices during the waning months of his life, including very compelling evidence by William Marks, Stake President in Nauvoo. Following Joseph’s death, Brigham vilified those responsible for the press, branding them as enemies and traitors. Additionally, Brigham introduced into the Masonic-based temple endowment an “Oath of Vengeance” which obligated inductees as follows:
“You and each of you do covenant and promise that you will pray and never cease to pray to Almighty God to avenge the blood of the prophets upon this nation, and that you will teach the same to your children and to your children’s children unto the third and fourth generation.”
All of which takes us to the title of this post. How on earth does this oath comport with the gospel of Jesus Christ? The Book of Mormon clearly teaches that vengeance is the purview of the Lord ONLY, not of men.
Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:20)
The Nephites in the Book of Mormon always lost when they took vengeance into their own hands. It is a recurring theme throughout the book. Likewise, John Corrill and Ebenezer Robinson, both of whom have written contemporary accounts of the saints in Missouri, observe that conditions materially worsened for the saints when they ceased to turn the other cheek and live the pure gospel. When they start to take matters into their own hands and retaliate (Danites anyone?) things go downhill quickly, ultimately resulting in their expulsion from Missouri. It appears as no coincidence to me that the rejection of the covenant of consecration coincides with their challenges, including the spirit of vengeance and retaliation which infiltrated the saints.
The Lord told the saints in Missouri that they would “never cease to prevail” if they would hearken to observe all the words which the Lord their God would speak to them. This is not a story of the old settlers in Missouri kicking the saints out, but rather the story of a people who break the covenant of consecration and reap the consequences.
If as a people for generations we have sworn an oath to take vengeance on our “perceived” enemies then we don’t really believe the scriptures or the gospel. Satan is run rampant among us as he “opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:4)
One day we will understand that William Law, in publishing the Nauvoo Expositor, was acting in his place as a counselor to Joseph to work a reformation. One day we will realize that he has a divine calling to be accomplished in the Third Watch. Read what the Lord has to say about William in Section 124.
97 Let my servant William Law also receive the keys by which he may ask and receive blessings; let him beahumble before me, and be without bguile, and he shall receive of my Spirit, even the cComforter, which shall manifest unto him the truth of all things, and shall give him, in the very hour, what he shall say.
100 And what if I will that he should araise the dead, let him not withhold his voice.
101 Therefore, let my servant William cry aloud and spare not, with joy and rejoicing, and with hosannas to him that sitteth upon the throne forever and ever, saith the Lord your God.
102 Behold, I say unto you, I have a mission in store for my servant William, and my servant Hyrum, and for them alone; and let my servant Joseph tarry at home, for he is needed. The remainder I will show unto you hereafter. Even so. Amen.
Healing the sick…Poisonous serpents…Raising the dead…A special mission with Hyrum. The Lord never spoke like this about Brigham Young, and yet untold thousands were taught to hate this man, because he had the temerity to listen to the spirit and seek for a reformation–a reformation that even Joseph acknowledged was necessary when he said the following on July 16, 1843:
“…Hyrum held the office of prophet to the church by birth-right & he was going to have a REFORMATION and the saints must regard Hyrum for he has authority”
William Law and Hyrum were the one’s called to reform the church. Their mission in the Second Watch was a failure. They will return again to fulfill what has been prophecied by the Lord. It will all be fulfilled. As an institution we must repent of the vicious lies we have told about the likes of William Law. We must repent of the false oaths we have sworn under the guise of piety in holy houses of the Lord. Only then will we be able to see clearly the purposes of the Lord in our history, and fully understand what is shortly to come.