Letter from Tennessee

1842-06-15

Times and Seasons Lee, John D., A. Young, and Samuel B. Frost

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Lee, John D., A. Young, and Samuel B. Frost. Letter from Tennessee. Times and Seasons (Nauvoo, Illinois) 3, no. 16 (15 June 1842): 820–21.

For the Times and Seasons.

LETTER FROM TENNESSEE.

PUTNAM COUNTY, Tenn., May 18, 1842.

MR. EDITOR:— Dear Sir — It devolves upon me, although a painful duty, to announce to you the present state and condition of affairs as we have found them in this place. On the 18th of March I arrived at the city of Nashville, and after visiting several branches of the church, and setting them in order according to my appointment, I was informed by Dr. Alfonzo Young, that recently, a branch of the church had been organized in Putnam county, by William and Alford Young, who professed to teach our principles, viz: The faith of the Latter Day Saints. In order to give you the opportunity of suppressing the progress of difficulties arising from false teachers, we address this line to you for your information; being thoroughly acquainted with many of the principles taught by them, and also of the evils resulting from their teachings and conduct. They profess to be empowered with ten supernatural gifts, nine of them are contained in the 12th chapter of 1st Corinthians — raising the dead they claim as the 10th. Mr. Daniel Hunt, one of their coadjutors, in addition to the gifts above mentioned, claims to be the personage spoken of in the 20th chapter of Revelations who is to bind the dragon a thousand years; he also professes to have the power to seal up unto eternal life. They have made six proselytes near the town of Alexandria, De Kalb county. The authenticity of the Book of Mormon was by them held in obscurity, and when interrogated on the subject they would reply, that the time would come when they should arrive at its contents; that the book was not designed to be taught to the gentiles at present, and that it was only to be taught to the Jews in order to effect their restoration. They pretended to raise the dead while in Smith county, twenty miles distant from this place, on two different occasions; one of these miraculous [820] displays of the spirit, was exhibited in raising one of the above named ministers who died while on his mission to this place, and in performing this operation as well as many others trange manœuvers, they would act as the spirii dictated, and when satan would approach them they would wind up his bands — this they did to prevent his influence over them — by a motion of the hands and accompanied with words uttered in a harsh heavy tone, this was the second revolution performed. They have some tremendous combats with the devil in order to prepare for the contest, they would take off their coats and hats and roll up their sleeves, as though they had a Goliah to encounter, and after an engagement of several hours, they would finally succeed in divesting the room of these demons; but frequently after the doors were closed great exertion was made to prevent their returning again. These were some of the effects of that spirit which animated the bosom of these counterfeit Mormons. They taught their converts to contend for the same spirit which they possessed, and when they obtained it and were impelled by it, it produced a change of countenance depicted with horror; a trembling, twitching, falling down and wallowing in the mud; others would snort like wild beasts, bark as dogs, run through the creek, pretending to sing and speak in tongues, crying prophecy, prophecy; others would lie in a swoon for several hours, and springing to their feet again, state that the spirit had commanded them to chastise certain characters who were present, and would then fall upon them with all their strength as though they were to be exterminated in reality; one of these young ladies fell on her knees before me, and said, although I was a stranger yet she loved me because I was a preacher, and attempted to put her arms around my neck; I put forth my hand and rebuked the evil spirit by which she was actuated, and she immediately fell to the earth and wept with shame. Those gentlemen I have not seen who introduced these principles into this neighborhood, they left here some time in the month of March, and directed their course for the western district of Tennessee. But this was the deplorable situation of these miserableand unfortunate proselytes when Dr. Young and myself came to their relief. This course of conduct, you are well aware, produced great opposition to the faith of the Latter Day Saints, particularly by those who were watching for iniquity, in so much that we were threatened with mobs if we did not leave the neighborhood immediately, stating that Mormonism had already destroyed the peace of some of their citizens; however, we did not regard threats, and knowing most asuredly if we should shrink from our duty and not proclaim against such proceedings, and discard all such conduct and folly as was exhibited in this place by these impostors, that we would not stand acquitted before that God to whom we must, as well as all men, render an impartial account of our stewardship. — Under these considerations I determined to try to remove the veil of obscurity, that sin should be reproved, and truth vindicated; so I frankly told them that the spirit by which they were actuated, emenated from Lucifer, the prince of darkness, and that its delusive influence would ultimately prove destructive to all the souls that were influenced by it if they did not resist it immediately. Elder Samuel Frost came to my assistance a few days after I arrived here, and has been laboring diligently with me ever since to remove the prejudice and erroneous notions that were imbibed by many in consequence of false teachings; and truly the Lord has blessed us, and confirmed the word by signs following; for the sick have been restored immediately by the prayer of faith through the atoning blood of the covenant, in the name of Jesus. Unclean spirits, also, have been subject to the priesthood through our administration in a number of instances, the most of those that were possessed of the evil spirit have been restored to their proper mind, indeed I never realized so sensibly the worth of the power of the priesthood since I have been called to the mintstry, as I did on this occasion. I have baptized 28 persons in Rutherford, Smith, and Putnam counties. Brothers Frost and Linzey have baptized 22 in Knox county. We have many calls to preach, as prejudice has given way to a great extent, and I think there is not only a possibility, but a probability, of effecting a considerable work in this place.

We remain, as ever yours,

In the everlasting gospel of peace,

JOHN D. LEE,

A. YOUNG,

SAMUEL B. FROST.

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