Washington D.C.
Nov. 4th 1853

Dear Bro. Young,

I have received your letter of Sept. 1st <I> am sorry to learn of the Indian difficulties, but I am in hopes that they will not amount to any thing very serious.  I am glad to learn that you intend enclosing the city with a wall for it will be of great benefit to us in case of any future difficulties.  It will be a great & tedious work to accomplish, but union & perseverance will enable the saints to do anything that is necessary.  I am happy to learn that you have appointed Dr. Bernhisel as the Delegate; for I am persuaded that he has used his utmost endeavors to do us good, and also he has learned by past experience many things that would give him the advantage over one that was entirely fresh.  I prayed earnestly, many times after you intimated to me that perhaps I might be appointed, that if the Lord saw that there was any other <way>in which I could be an instrument in doing more good, that he would put it into your heart to appoint some one else.  Not but what I was perfectly willing to act in that sphere, if it was where the Lord wanted me.  But I do not seek after worldly honor and worldly gain, only so far as the Lord may see proper to bestow the same as a blessing, and as a medium through which I can do good.  Dr. Bernhisel was highly respected so far as any man in this church could be, & I believe that he will exert himself to do us good.  I understand that he arrived in the east about one month ago, but I have received no letter from him as yet.

I have received a letter from L.W. Richards stating that the 10,000 Hymn books were ready and packed for shipping.  I suppose that the 3000 each of the other 2i books will be ready in the course of the winter.  I have not drawn on the Liverpool office for the furthering for any purpose

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but I do not know but I shall be obliged to avail myself of your kind offer, and borrow for a short time a little means to help me along; if I can conveniently get along without, I shall <be> happy to do so.

My propositions for printing the second volume of the Seer have been before the public nearly 2 months, during which time <only> about 20 of the old subscribers have renewed their subscriptions for another year.  This is rather discouraging, but still I hope for better things.  The predjudice of this nation is very great, even the exchange papers have all stopped coming with the exception of one or two.  Brothers Alondus D.L. Buckland and Mitchell have found the prejudice so great in the British Provinces that they have quit them and come to the states.  Bro. Mitchell the last news was in Ohio, and Bro. Buckland in St Louis.  Brother Aaron F. Farr was a few weeks since in Philadelphia and thought of going for a short time into N. Jersey.  He has been received very coldly wherever he has gone.  Bro. Jesse Turpin was in Virginia with his family & wrote that he thought of going to Arkansas.  Bro. James Brown is in Indiana.  I think he meets with some little success, has baptized a few.  Bro. Lambson was, the last I heard in Michigan, but I cannot learn that many have received his testimony.  The excitement on the introduction of celestial Marriage has mostly subsided, and sunk down into a bitter, cold, deadly, silent hatred, looking upon the saints as the most degraded, contemptible, beastly creatures, that, in their estimation, disgrace the earth.  Their minds are made up upon popular rumour, and news paper slander, for our works they do not read.  Those few who have read the Seer seem to be mad to think that they cannot find the least item of testimony against the Patriarchal order of Marriage, and against what they pretend to consider so beastly a practice.  This is, as near as I can in a few words describe, the present condition

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of this nation, so far as my observation goes: they are determined to go to hell with their eyes & ears closed.
The 12th No of the 1st volume of <the> Seer was sent out about a week ago.

In the last but one of your letters, you state that there are many in some of the Seers, there are many points urged by me in my reasoning “that are not Sound Doctrine, and will not be so received by the Saints.”  This may be the case, for I am liable to err.  Whatever those points may be, I hope that the Saints may not receive them; I do not wish any of the Saints either in Utah or abroad in the earth to receive unsound doctrine from my pen, or from my mouth.  In connection with this Letter I forward to you an article for the “Deseret News” which, if you think <it> would be of any benefit to publish, I am willing should go before the public.  By an item dropped in a letter from an individual in the valley, I am led to conclude that the argument I have used to sustain the Unity and Plurality of God in an article headed “The Pre-Existence of Man, is not received as sound Doctrine.  I have there argued that each of the saints who entered into the fulness of Celestial glory, and became Gods, would receive a fulness of all truth as promised in the book of covenants and that they would be, as the vision states, “equal in power, and in might, and in Dominion;” and that the Unity, Eternity, and Omnipresence of God, consisted in the oneness and Eternity and Omnipresence of the attributes such as “the fulness of Truth,” light, love, wisdom, & knowledge, dwelling in countless numbers of tabernacles in numberless worlds, and that the oneness of these attributes is what is called in both ancient & modern revelations, the One God besides whom there is none other God neither before Him, neither shall there be any after Him.  I have still further argued that the Plurality of Gods only had reference to

the number of persons or tabernacles wherein this one God, or in other words, the fulness of these attributes dwells. These arguments and these alone, most perfectly silenced and effectually reconcile the doctrines of <the> Unity, Plurality, and Eternity, of God and Omnipresence of God as set forth so abundantly and “clearly in the both ancient & modern revelations; without these arguments I have not the most distant idea how to reconcile them; without these arguments I could not stand one moment before arguments brought by our opponents:  without these arguments, it would be entirely in vain for me to try & enlighten the world upon this subject by reason:  I could only bear my testimony that there was but one God as clearly declared in our revelations, & that there was <were> many Gods as asserted in the same revelations, and there I should have to leave it, as a stumbling block before the world and as a stumbling block before many that <are> honest though uninformed.  It is true when I was in Utah I heard Elder Kimball advance the idea that all Gods would be forever progressing in knowledge, but then I supposed that it was merely thrown out without much consideration as a mere conjecture, and was not aware that it was his real permanent & settled views upon this subject, neither can I persuade myself, even now, that minds accustomed to severe thought and meditation as yours had been these many years, can; after due reflection, and reading the vast number of revelations <which> seem most clearly to teach differently, still believe in a doctrine which appears to be so contrary to what is revealed.  It is not through self-will or stubbornness that I have published what I have upon this subject.  I have published, whether right or wrong, what I verily

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and most sincerely believed to be the true doctrine revealed

Had I know.  I have published the only arguments which I can discover to sustain our <that> doctrine against the attacks of the world.  If this be one of the many points of Doctrine urged by me which you consider unsound, I am willing, and feel it my duty, to let my tongue & pen be silent upon this subject here after, until the Lord shall show you, & through you, the church, what a still greater fulness of information that we may be corrected in our errors & instructed more perfectly in the right way.  I am also still willing to make any satifaction that you or the saints may require of me.  And if I am willing to do this, I hope that you will grant me as an individual the privelege of believing my present views, and that you will not require me to teach others in the temple or in any other place that which I do not & can not  <without more light> believe in regard to the eternal progression of all the Gods in knowledge.  I do not ask any one else to believe as I do upon this subject.  I will not use any influence either in public or in private, verbally or by writing to make the <people> believe differently from what you do.  I desire that you & all the saints will forgive me for having published any thing which is in the least derogatory to your settled views: and had I been pursuaded that you did in reality entertain permanent views contrary to what I have published, I should have kept my views away from the public; for it is not my prerogative to teach publicly that which I know the president considers to be unsound.  It may be that this is not one of the unsound points to which you refer, although it has been thus stated to me in a letter.  The 1st vol. of the Seer has been mostly occupied I shall endeavor in defending the Plurality & Unity of God, and the Plurality of Wives.  I have closed these subjects, and I will endeavor to comply

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with your suggestions in my future Nos. to publish and reason upon other subjects more easily comprehended and not quite so much opposed to the prejudices of the people.  Any suggestions you can make to me in regard to the subject matter, or any principles which you judge would be calculated to do the most good, I should be most happy to receive from you.

In the bonds of the Covenant
I subscribe myself
your humble servant,
Orson Pratt

P.S.  By a close and careful re-examination of the articles published in the Seer, I find that in treating upon the Pre Existence of Man, I have quoted extensively from the new translation of the Bible & the book of Abraham.  These quotations are in direct opposition to what I have heard Elder Kimball teach; they were not brought forward, however, to prove a different doctrine from what he taught; but the quotations were made as being evidences of another subject, foreign from that, and upon which I am not aware that there is any differences in our views.  I will here observe, however, that my own individual belief is in accordance with those quotations; and with those revelations before me I do not see any possible way for me to believe otherwise than that man the man’s body was made out of the ground, and that a rib was extracted from his body in the formation of Eve; but as brother Kimball <and perhaps others> teaches, as appears to me, somewhat differently, I do not feel disposed to publicly teach different, though my own sentiments upon that subject are directly the reverse.


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For the Deseret News

I have been informed by letter from our Beloved President Young, that in several of the Seers, “There are many points” urged by me in my reasoning, “That are not Sound Doctrine and will not be so received by the Saints.”  What those points are is not explained in the letter. “This is, therefore to acknowledge my weakness & liability to err, without the immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost which leads into all truth. How great is the weakness of man! And how little can his teachings or writings be depended upon without revelation from the great fountain of truth! I do most earnestly hope that the Saints throughout the world will reject every unsound doctrine which they may discover in the “Seer” or in any of my writings. Whatever may come in contact with the settled & permanent views of our president, should be laid aside as the emanations of erring human wisdom. God has appointed him as our president, and it is his province to correct us; and we should sustain him by our faith and prayers, that God may, by revelation, unfold unto us, in due time, the truth of all “things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;” for without revelation human wisdom will err.

With the most anxious desire for the welfare of the Saints, I subscribe myself their most humble, though erring servant.

Orson Pratt.

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[Transcribed by Pete Pratt, Julia Winfield, Nolan Ogzeawalla, Janean Hendrickson, Erin McAllister, Vincy Stringham  Mar. 2010]

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