WORDS OF COUNSEL
TO THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE CHURCH GIVEN BY PRESIDENT JOSEPH SMITH, JR. OCTOBER 1838 WHILE IMPRISONED IN THE LIBERTY, MO JAIL
While Brother Joseph was incarcerated in the Liberty, MO jail, along with other leaders of the Church due to the orders of Governor Lilburn W. Boggs, he wrote letters to the Saints, apprising them of their situations and also offering support and encouragement to those who were struggling to continue to stand strong in the faith.
In the "Times and Seasons," Volume 1, pages 131 and 132 is contained some of Brother Joseph's words which offer his insights as to the situation they found themselves in, and to the ministry of all priesthood members as shared with each other and to all whom they find under their ministry. We would share a portion of those words at this time for the understanding they offer to each man of ministry as seemeth him good. We would further urge each member to read and study these letters of Brother Joseph to more fully understand the content and context in which they were written. We believe that exercise will bring greater understanding to the desires of our young prophet for the Saints and the Church.
"...when we undertake to cover our sins, to gratify our pride, vain ambition, or to exercise dominion of compulsion over the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold the heavens withdraw themselves, the spirit of the Lord is grieved, then amen to the priesthood or to the authority of that man; Behold ere he is aware, he is left to kick against the pricks, to persecute the Saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, to begin to exercise unrighteous dominion; hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can, or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by longsuffering, by gentleness, by meekness and by love unfeigned; without hypocrisy, and without guile; reproving with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and afterwards showing an increase of love towards him whom thou hast reproved lest he esteem thee to be his enemy, so that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death. Let the soul be full of charity towards all men, and virtue guard thy thoughts unceasingly..."