OVERCOMING THE OPPOSITION OF EZRA BOOTH'S LETTERS
The infant restored Church of Jesus Christ had very little hierarchy--the Prophet Joseph Smith functioned not only as a Prophet who interacted with heavenly beings in visions, as a President who directed the temporal affairs of the new Church [Jesus Christ as its head], and as a translator/interpreter of scripture and revealer of doctrine, but he also walked through the mud on rescue missions, lived as a houseguest in other people's homes, personally helped individual members with problems, acted as an itinerant preacher in his travels, struggled to make a living for his family, and, in December of 1831, ran a public relations campaign to recover the Church's reputation after Ezra Booth's anti-Mormon letters were published. (See previous post.)
1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in aproclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the bmysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.
2 Verily I say unto you, proclaim unto the world in the regions round about, and in the church also, for the space of a season, even until it shall be amade known unto you.
3 Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you.
God can create positive benefits from negative events, and that is often the case with anti-Mormon criticisms. My husband recently came across the story of Ira and Charity Ames, who were both converted in part because of the criticism of others, including Ezra Booth's letters. Ira Ames wrote in his personal history:
"About this time [August 1830] I read some letters that were written by a man named Booth who had been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He had apostatized and was very severe against the work. When reading his letters, I left an impression that there was something in Mormonism."
Ira then received a letter from his mother, whom he had not seen in years, telling him that she and some of his siblings had joined the Church. "My mother and sister Sally and Jared Carter [Ira's wife's brother] and Lydia had moved previous to this to Cherango County near Norwich, State of New York and were living not far from each other. When reading over my mothers letter it ran through me like lightning it roused every feeling of my mind, the effect was powerful." He tried to share this excitement with his wife, Charity, but she laughed and ridiculed him for his gullability.
In June of 1832, Jared Carter visited him for several days and taught him the gospel. "He seemed to me filled with light, he answered all my questions to my satisfaction, and gave out many ideas I had never thought of." Jared then baptized Ira in the river and told him that he now had the privilege to receive the Holy Ghost.
"On the way back while pondering over what Jared had taught me, a bright light burst on my mind. Many passages of Scripture came most plain and clear to my mind. I understood the work of these last days. I was full of intelligence and light and had a full evidence of the truth of Mormonism. And realized what Jared had been telling me that it was my privilege to obtain from the Lord in relation to the gifts. Jared further informed me before he left that a conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was to be held in the town of Benson, Vermont on August 10th at my wife's father's house, Jabez Carter. He also informed me that two of my wife's brothers Luman and Daniel Carter had joined the church and also many others of her relations and friends. In fact, the work had taken deep hold in her family."
Two brethren of the Church visited the Ames home shortly which angered Charity, Ira's wife. This anger festered and grew. "One morning in the forepart of August, I had been reasoning with my wife in mildness, meekness and calmness, when she suddenly seized her infant son and left the house determined never to live with me again. She knew that the Methodist circuit preacher was at John Shadins house about a mile from my house. When she reached the house they were at breakfast, the doors all open, and the Methodist preacher sat in such a manner that he saw my wife as she approached the kitchen door. He called aloud to her as she approached, 'Ah Mrs. Ames, how is that Mormon husband of yours? If I had been to your house when those two fellows were there I would have cracked their heads together.' (Slapping his hands together up over his head.) All this was said in a sneering, jeering, mocking tone and manner. It had a powerful effect on the mind of my wife, who turned instantly about without speaking and returned home. She told me she was convinced I was right, told me of the preachers words and that she saw that he was full of a devilish spirit. And from that moment was a humble, obedient, quiet, dutiful wife. I never saw so great a change in anyone. She said she was willing to be subject to me, to gather with the Saints or do whatever I saw proper, for she saw the difference in my spirit and that preachers" (Ira Ames, Journal, accessed online at Huntsman-Gifford.com).
DIRECTIONS FOR THE BISHOPS
Section 72 details the work of the bishops, and tells the Saints that they need permission from the Kirtland bishop to get an inheritance in good standing with the Independence (Zion) bishop. As mentioned in a previous post, many people didn't follow this direction, one of the problems that led to the dissolution of Zion in Missouri.
24 A few words in addition to the laws of the kingdom, respecting the members of the church—they that are aappointed by the Holy Spirit to go up unto Zion, and they who are bprivileged to go up unto Zion—
25 Let them carry up unto the bishop a acertificate from three elders of the church, or a certificate from the bishop;
26 Otherwise he who shall go up unto the land of Zion shall not be accounted as a wise steward.
UNDERSTANDING THE BIBLE
Section 73, received in early January, tells Joseph and Sidney their mission is accomplished and they are to return to the Bible effort. As they do so, they encounter a scripture they do not understand, which leads to the revelation in Section 74.
LITTLE CHILDREN ARE SAVED BY CHRIST
Section 74 solves a theological problem that has confounded many religions. If people are born into a fallen world, are those people born sinful? As Joseph Smith read 1 Corinthians 7:14, he was confused and asked the Lord for clarification. Steven C. Harper writes that Jewish husbands wanted their infant sons circumcised to show a covenant to obey the law of Moses, but their "Christian wives believed that Christ's atonement satisfied the law of Moses and that baptism was the new token of the gospel covenant." Because of circumcision, the idea had arisen that children were born unholy and circumcision remedied that problem. Paul counseled Christians not to marry Jews unless they agreed to let the children be raised Christian (Steven C. Harper, Making Sense of the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 74). Thanks to this early understanding, we Latter-day Saints know that babies and children are holy, sanctified by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
EVERY MEMBER A MISSIONARY
And now we are in the year 1832. The Church is not yet 2 years old. Section 75 is a mission call to a number of brethren, including Gideon Carter and Sylvester Smith.
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I who speak even by the avoice of my Spirit, even bAlpha and Omega, your Lord and your God—
2 Hearken, O ye who have agiven your names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to bprune my vineyard.
3 Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be aidle but blabor with your might—
4 Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, aproclaiming the btruth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.
5 And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many asheaves, and bcrowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.
On the 6th of August, Brother Ames went to Benson to the conference his brother-in-law had told him about. He met with ridicule and criticism of "Joe Smith" on his way there. The wild tales troubled him so severely that he went to bed with great anxiety on his mind. In the night he was visited by an angel in a dream three times who told him to wake up and read Isaiah chapter 11. He read about the rod coming forth out of the stem of Jesse, and the root of Jesse standing as an ensign to the people, gathering Israel from among the Gentiles. He felt a confirmation that he was a part of this work.
"I was satisfied and felt to rejoice and thank the Lord for his kindness in manifesting the thing to me and I told Him it was enough... [I went on] to the Conference where I met Orson Pratt, Lyman Johns[on], Sylvester Smith and Jared Carter and Gideon [Carter] and about twelve other members of the church. I was very young in the Church and knew but little but thought I knew it all. And then when Orson Pratt, Lyman, Sylvester and others spoke to us, they unfolded new principle after new principle, glory after glory, until my Soul was fed with fatness, and I wept many tears of joy" (Ira Ames, Journal, linked previously).
"From 1835 through 1836, Ira worked on the temple, slept rolled in a blanket on the Prophet’s floor at night to guard against the depredations of the mob, kept the temple books in order, was assigned to receive tithing and donations, and was chorister at the Kirtland temple dedication" (Barton Golding, "Ira Ames," LatterDayLight.com, Oct. 26, 2018).
"In 1846 Ira moved his family to Council Bluffs. 'We remained at the bluffs farming and raising stock, being greatly blessed and prospered until the year 1851.' In the summer of 1851, Ira and his family traveled with the Easton Kelsey Company to the Salt Lake Valley. 'We arrived in the Valley on the 22nd or 23rd day of September and my heart was poured out in thankfulness to God that I was once more with his true Servants, in the chambers of the Lord, in the tops of the Mountains. I felt heavenly. I felt I was at home again'" (Golding).
Brother Ames spent the last ten years of his life in Cache Valley, Utah, where he died at the age of 65. He is buried in the Wellsville, Utah Cemetery.