180 years ago today - Aug 19, 1842

The SANGAMO JOURNAL publishes "JOE SMITH'S MORALITY. What Joe's morality amounts to, can be learned from his letter to Miss Rigdon, which will be found in the 6th communication of Gen. Bennett, in this paper. Joe Smith, in the letter alluded to, undertakes to sustain by the Scriptures, by reason, argument, and GOD'S REVELATION TO HIMSELF, the lawfulness of his "spiritual wife doctrine." Joseph Smith's letter to Nancy Rigdon is given by John C. Bennett, former Assistant P resident of the Church, in his exposee of Mormonism./ Mormon leaders deny that Joseph wrote the letter and claim it is made up by Bennett. However long after the Mormons have moved to Utah the same "essay" is published in the History of the Church and later in "Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith" as being by Joseph Smith.

Nancy had refused Joseph's proposal and he dictated a letter to her a day or two later about plural marriage, hoping to convince her to marry him.

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence ... we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them ... That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another."

Joseph tells Nancy that enjoying God's "gifts" and "enjoyments" is not a sin if there is revelation, and that those who receive this blessing "shall have abundantly".

"[I]t is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings"

The letter discusses the centrality of revelation, that it must be followed even if it appears unreasonable:

"This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted--by revelation ... Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. "

Joseph then gives an example of Solomon asking for wisdom and receiving a "special revelation" which granted "every desire of his heart" that others "considered abominable."

"So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation."

The last part of the letter transitions into an unannounced revelation. The first portion of the revelation is directed to Nancy telling her to seek for revelation, and warns that she should refrain from those "I have not given you", an apparent reference to her romantic interest in Francis Higbee.

"-he says, ["]Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;" but, if you will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds;"

The rest of the revelation is directed to a broader audience, although intended for Nancy's ears. Presumably to those who accept Joseph's proposal, the Lord will not withhold any "good thing" to those "who will listen to ... the voice of my servant," for God delights in those who to "abide by the law of my kingdom." Perhaps referring to turmoil they may feel in learning about plural marriage, the revelation concludes, "in the end they would have joy"

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