Mormon History

The Murmurs of Emma Smith - 1879

The Salt Lake Daily Tribune October 23, 1879


The revelation given to Mrs. Smith, wife of the prophet Joseph, as found in the "Book of Commandments," published 1832, reads as follows:

1. A Revelation to Emma, given in Harmony, Pennsylvania, July, 1830.

Emma, my daughter in Zion, a revelation I give unto you concerning my will:

2. Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady, whom I have called.

3. Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come.

4. And the office of thy calling shall be for a comfort unto my servant, Joseph, thy husband, in his afflictions, with consoling words, in the spirit of meekness.

5. And thou shalt go with him at the time of his going, and be unto him for a scribe, that I may send Oliver whithersoever I will.

6. And thou shalt be ordained under his hand to expound scriptures, and to exhort the church, according as it shall be given thee by my Spirit.

7. For he shall lay his hands upon thee, and thou shalt receive the Holy Ghost, and thy time shall be given to unity, and to learning much.

8. And thou needest not fear, for thy husband shall support thee from the Church.

9. For unto them is his calling, that all things might be revealed unto them, whatsoever I will, according to their faith.

10. And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better.

11. And it shall be given thee, also, to make a selection of sacred hymns, as it shall be given thee, which is pleasing unto me, to be had in my church

12. For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart: Yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.

13. And it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

14. Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.

15. Continue in the spirit of meekness, and beware of pride.

16. Let thy soul delight in thy husband, and the glory which shall come upon him.

17. Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive.

18. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.

19. And verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my voice unto all. Amen.

It does not appear from the above who "I" is, that so readily forgives this elect lady her sins. Said old Uncle Isaac Hale, (with naive curiosity) concerning another of these so-called revelations: "I inquired whose words they were." We will not pause, however, to inquire here whose words these are. Whosesoever words, they have since been revised and directly fathered on God. In verification whereof let the Saints who doubt overhaul his Doctrine and Covenants, and, as Captain Cuttle says, when found make a note on.

From the above revelation it does appear that Sister Emma is an elect lady whom I have called," designated as such by -- some one. The prophet Joseph was to lay his hands upon his wife, this lady elect, (who had then been baptized but a few weeks,) and she was to receive the Holy Ghost and was to be ordained under her husband's hands "to expound scriptures, and to exhort the Church according as it shall be given thee by my spirit."

Wasn't this virtually making an elder, or eldress of the elect lady? And could not this elect lady-alderess, on a pinch, have baptized?

Now, suppose this sole elect lady elderess, alone or in conjunction with other elders, fully believing that the work known as Mormonism was of divine institution, but that it had fallen into transgression and ill-repute through unwise or wicked administration, suppose these to have still retained their position and still to have held on to the faith as elders and as elderesses, and they not, or had not any one of them, the privilege, the right and the authority to reorganize this (to their mind) transgressing Church? Has not the very doctrine been loudly preached in Utah that, so long as one faithful elder remained on earth, the Church of Christ could never be obliterated? This being so, the only question is, where is the transgression, and who has transgressed -- the Church in Utah, or the one or more who have, as they claim, maintained their standing and integrity, and have essayed to reorganize and who have in fact, as they claim, reorganized the Church? As often happens, Mormonism built more wisely than it knew in its "elect lady whom I have called." We may scorn, repudiate, abjure, all the hunbug of it (and the sooner this is done the better) but it would be the height of folly, short-sightedness and injustice to scorn or ignore the self-sacrifice which Mormonism has entailed and which it has exemplified, sometimes heroic, often pitiable, always respectful when made with sincere motive for right and truth, while forever

The actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.

It is of the utmost importance that those women who have staked their all in this manner, should know definitely upon what it has been staked. Let them not scruple to come forward and reveal what they know and what they have been taught to believe. When such close secrecy and where such deep covenant-taking have been practised and enjoined, one is naturally suspicious, one is warranted in suspecting that there has been some foul play, or underhand work that will not bear the light. The whole truth and the exact truth is bound to come, sisters, after you have gone beyond our hearing and recall. Oh be wise in time, and then you are sure to be wise in eternity. Make a clean breast of it, and leave the result with God. Possibly you may discover -- may come to realize at last -- that you have been duped by vain and wicked men, or by the vain imagination of your own hearts. If Emma Smith Bidamon has stated what she knew to be false, of course she cannot be justified; but before you prove her to be the chief sinner, you must demonstrate the righteousness of what she lived so many years opposing and died repudiating. The more virtuous and enlightened portion of the world have failed to discover the righteousness of polygamy. You say that you know it came from God. Now speak out, and let us know upon what this confident assertion is based.

Come, Joseph, come! Let not the heavens hear these tell-tale women rail on the Lord's anointed -- your honored mother, who if she had had more influence with your father, better would it have been for him and for us all. Too much man, too little of woman, has there been in the councils and government of human beings. Come, let us see if "Sister Emma's son has fastened a stigma on the character of his mother that can never be erased." Your mother, indeed, to shield her husband's name and to shield and spare her children, may not have felt it her duty to tell all, and in Utah you may possibly hear of two women having been sealed to your father one day and through your mother's insistence, unsealed the next, with other items that may surprise you still more. It has been a terrible business -- let us have it all told out at least.

Note: The "Joseph" spoken of in the last paragraph is, of course, Joseph Smith III, the son of Emma Smith -- he was then the President of the Reorganized LDS Church. James T. Cobb had been in correspondence with Emma's oldest son for several months when the Tribune printed this article. Joseph Smith III's reaction to alleged polygamy in his father's family and church was to investigate the matter and then say he did not believe those allegations. The RLDS President did much the same in regard to his investigating and rebutting the Spalding-Rigdon explanation for Book of Mormon authorship (see his 1883 article in the Saints' Herald, which not only denounces the Spalding authorship claims, but also manages to say a word or two about James T. Cobb).