The Sentiments of the Saints.

We have received the following letter, addressed to the prisoners who have been sentenced to imprisonment in the penitentiary be cause of their fidelity to God and his commandments.  As we are not in a position to consult with those to whom it is addressed as to the propriety of publishing it, we venture to give it a place in our columns without asking for the privilege, feeling assured it will be of interest to all the Saints.  The writer gives voice in this communication to the feelings of the tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints who dwell in these mountains and in various parts of the world.  Not being able to communicate to their beloved brethren in prison their views concerning their heroic deportment, or to encourage them to any extent by the public expression of their sympathy, they will be pleased to have it so well done for them, as it is by President Joseph F. Smith in this forcible and comforting epistle:

July 10th, 1885.

President A.M. Cannon, Elders A.M. Musser, J.C. Watson, P.P. Pratt, Rudger Clawson, Jos. H. Evans, Wm. Fotheringham, and other fellow-prisoners for Christ’s and conscience sake.

My Dearly Beloved Brethren: For a long time I have desired to whisper just a word of sympathy and fellowship into your listening ears.  Not that I can say aught that you do not already thoroughly know, nor anything that has not been said, perhaps far more fitting than I can say it; but that I may add my mite to the copious flow of sympathy and expressions of confidence and love and admiration which have already greeted you from every hand, in honor of your manly courage and patient resignation to the will of Providence, and other noble actions, so far, throughout this unhallowed persecution.  I would have you know that I am not only “almost” but altogether such as you are, except those bonds, in heart and spirit respecting the main question.  I know not how soon I may be altogether as you are, including both the bonds and imprisonment, nor do I care, if it be the will of heaven.  I am willing to share the lot of my brethren, whether in suffering or rejoicing.  It is a consolation to know that we are only enduring in part what our betters and equals from time immemorial have had to suffer, often, in full.

We are no more worthy to escape than they were.  It pleased God to allow them to suffer for a wise purpose in Him, that the cup of their enemies might be filled, and if it so pleases Him now, I have no doubt that some of us at least can endure it as well as they did.  We certainly possess all the rights and privileges of the Gospel that they possessed, and for which they cheerfully suffered persecutions, counting all things as dross, and taking joyfully the spoiling of their goods and of their good name, for the excellency of the name of the Son of God.  We even have more than they, for now the fulness of the Gospel, has been revealed and restored, while in former dispensations but part was given.  I will simply name the glorious principle of baptism for the dead and all its attendant ordinances, including sealings, adoptions and holy anointings and ordinations, which doubtless never were so fully revealed in former Gospel dispensations (unless it might be in that of Enoch’s) as in the “dispensation of the fulness of times.”  We not only have the “more sure word of prophecy,” possessed and enjoyed in the days of the Apostles to which Peter advised that those of his day would “do well to take heed as unto a light that shineth in a dark place until the day dawn and the day-star arise in their hearts,” but we witness the dawning of that day and the rising of that glorious “day-star” in the hearts of thousands of God’s people, no more to be dimmed or to cease to shine until that which is in part is done away and that which is perfect is come.  We certainly enjoy all the gifts and blessings, powers and privileges, rights and immunities, predictions and promises—so far as we have faith to claim them—that were ever enjoyed by the ancients, with equal length of experience and culture, to which we have added the history of their doings and of God’s dealings with them by and from which to profit and gather consolation and hope.  I will not dwell longer on this familiar theme.

I am proud of my connection with you in the noble cause for which you are counted worthy to suffer for conscience sake.  “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully,” and I thank you from the depths of my soul for the unflinching, manly and fearless example which you have so nobly set before the people and the world.  May the God of our fathers bless you and yours forever for your Abrahamic integrity to His word and commandments, and to your beloved families.  Your names will live in history to the end of time, and shine out bright through all eternity, if you but continue true and faithful; they will be found foremost in the bright galaxy of sufferers and martyrs of all ages for truth’s sake, and the cause of human reformation and advancement, and your children shall bless you from generation to generation, and to their increase there shall be no end.  You are making history which will be quoted in after time, and in which your names will figure as illustrious examples, while those of your persecutors will be held up to scorn and execration.  They will be perpetuated in effigy in some chamber of horrors, while you will be embalmed with sweet incense in the hearts of thousands and millions.  Their names in connection with the names of those who tortured and martyred the ancient Prophets, Apostles and Saints will go down to eternal infamy, if they repent not—if indeed their names are perpetuated at all.  What can be more apparent than the fact that the same spirit which actuated the “Herods” and “Neros,” and the Popes and Prelates of inquisitorial infamy, who sought the life of the infant Savior, and finally put him to death, beheaded John the Baptist, stoned, sawed asunder, scourged and slew the disciples; tortured, burned, crucified, plundered and murdered the early Saints and Christians, and finally racked, tortured and burned “heretics,” reformers, thinkers and revelators of true science and mechanism, etc., now actuates the enemies of the Saints.

Verily this same spirit is smouldering in the hearts of our persecutors, and is being rapidly fanned into flames by popular clamor and the bigotry of the hireling priests of the day, threatening to burst, on the slightest opening, with brutality, violence and fury upon the devoted heads of the defenseless Saints.  As God lives they are reckoning without their host, not withstanding they are finished with the praise of the world, and an easy victory over defenseless and non-resisting individuals.  They have failed to take into account that the God of heaven has put forth His mighty hand to build Zion and gather His scattered people from the four quarters of the earth, and lo! He will do it!

I have noted with deep interest, so far as I have had opportunity, the progress of the crusade, and the rapidly increasing hardihood, impudence, assumption and indecency of the crusaders.  I have noticed shameful and conscienceless summersaults of the chief inquisitors in their judicial (?) rulings, the utter blindness or willful disregard of consistency or consequence, on their part, in striving to accomplish their ends.  The manifest and more and more apparent bigotry and bias of the whole gang, from judge to spotter, those and a thousand other things pointed so clearly and definitely to the animus and venom of their hearts, and the paramount object of their work and mission, that a wayfaring man, though a fool, need not mistake the infamous character of their intentions, however much they may try to sugar-coat them with the color of law and the “beauties” (?) of modern monogamy and civilization.

It is astounding that they do not try to cover their slimy tracks with something thicker than the flimsy gauze of their pious regard and holy reverence for the “expressed will of fifty-five millions of people,” of which they have proven themselves wholly regardless, or they would have confined themselves to the remedies provided by the representatives of the aforesaid “55 millions,” to extirpate “sexual crimes” according to the law.  The course they are pursuing cannot fail to result finally more injuriously and fatally to themselves than to those they are persecuting, and to their cause more than to that of the supposed victims.  The fruits of our labors bear in them the speeds of sorrow and death.  For half a century we have held aloft and carried to the world the olive branch of “peace on earth and good will to man”—“life and liberty and equal justice,” warning them of the wrath to come.  In return they have met us by mob violence, scorn and contumely, slander and abuse, and with arson, plundering and murdering, and with armies and munitions of war, and finally with unconstitutional and proscriptive and barbarous laws, and equally barbarous and infamous Governors, Judges and Prosecutors.  But as God lives their time will be shortened.

From my heart I say God bless you, one and all, and reward you an hundred fold for all you may have to suffer, and our persecutors double for all their wickedness.  I revere and honor the sacred principles for which you so nobly stood before the bar of injustice, and for which you are suffering fines and incarceration.

God help us to pass through the fire unscathed and come out purified and refined as gold from the crucible.

We do not forget you in our prayers, nor do we forget the injunctions of the beloved Redeemer, to pray for our enemies.  I will leave you to judge as to the relative character of these petitions.  All within the compass of my social sphere join me in heart-felt sympathy and love for you and your beloved families, and all Israel.

I am, in the bonds of the New and Everlasting Covenant, now and forever, your friend, brother and well-wisher.

Joseph F. Smith

[Deseret News, Sept. 2, 1885]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, Sept. 2006]

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