Mormon History

Spiritual Advice for Joe Smith - 1844

Warsaw Message February 7, 1844


We are not willing, brother Joe, to leave the station we have ocupied for a year past, and in which it has been our duty to hold up your deformities occasionally to the public gaze, without giving you, in the kindest feeling, a few words of parting advice. It shall be gratis -- and therefore the more valuable: At any rate, our fee shall not exceed what you charge to marry a brother and sister for Eternity; and we think the service will be of quite as much value.

Be an honest man, Joe! Steeped up to the very eyes in sin, as you have been from your cradle up -- deep, disgusting, foul, lothesome, soul-destroying sin -- it is yet in your power, as we verily believe, by a long process of purgation and purification, to make [a] tolerably decent man of yourself. This will be disputed by many. But we are more charitable than some of our neighbors, and verily believe it. At least in the language of the Irishman -- "If you can't be dacent be as dacent as you can." But it will be no mean labor: it will require years of penitence, in sackcloth and ashes -- but then you can accomplish it. You are strong and robust and have sufficient mental and physical energy tp carry you through, if you shall undertake it in the proper spirit. Try it then.

Now Joe, that you have been a lazy, good-for-nothing vagabond, all the days of your life, your own conscience (if you have any left) will tell you. That you have been the ruin of hundreds of your fellow beings, men, women, and children; -- that you have been the means of sending many of your fellows into Eternity unprepared -- that you have robbed the widow and the orphan of their sixpence, and the honest laborer of his daily earnings -- the rich man of his hoarded gainl -- that you have violate the sanctuary of private life -- despoiled female virtue and innocence, and destroyed conjugal felicity; -- that you harbored the thief and robber -- directed the hand of the assassin and murder, and aided their escape from justice; -- that you have, under the garb of a Saint, done the work of a Demon -- in other words, "stolen the livery of Heaven to serve the Devil ;" that you have done all this, and a hundred times more, you need none other than that same inward monitor to tell you.

Knowing, as you must, Joe, the relation in which your black-hearted crimes and Heaven-daring blasphemies place you before God, we charge you that it is now high time that you should begin to repent in order to avert His impending vengeance. You are now near 40 years of age, and it will require all the remaining years of a life of four score and ten, to place you in the same moral position you occupied at the outset of your desparate career. You know, too, the position you occupy before your fellow men. You know that you are despised, and hated and loathed, by nineteen twentieths of all who have ever heard of your name and deeds; and all the "Appeals" that you and your understrappers can make to the sympathies of your fellow citizens, between this and the day in which you shall "shake off this mortal coil," will not change your position before them.

And more -- you cannot expect it to continue much longer in your courses of infamy and crime. Depend upon it, the day of retribution cannot be far distant, for at least some of your misdeeds. If the vengeance of the law shall overtake you, and stretch you up as quick as lightning to the gallows, and thus end your career, rest assured that individual vengeance will! Do you think that, of all the men, women and children you have so foullu wronged, that no one will be so bold as to avenge their own wrongs? be a prophet nor the son of a prophet -- yet we tell you that your career of infamy cannot continue but a little longer! Your days are numbered! The handwriting is upon the wall!

Come, now, brother Joe. Let us entreat you to begin the work of reparation. Begin it now, for you have much to do; the job is a hard one! Divide out again among the widows and the orphans whom you have beggared, [in] your knavery, the thousands you filched from their hard earnings; pay back those sums of money you have borrowed of your followers, and for which they have for years been whistling; dispoil the oxen and baptismal font of their trappings, and buy shoes and stockings for the ragged urchins of your streets; and tear down your Temple and of its materials build a hospital for the innocent victims of your ambition and licentiousness. These done, and you will have made some atonement for your past life. Until then, Joe, we shall remain as, ever, all but "your friend and most obedient servant."