Oliver’s letters to Joseph in 1829

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On 28 December 1829, Oliver wrote a letter to Joseph Smith. Oliver was in Manchester, NY; Joseph was in Harmony, PA. You can read the letter in the Joseph Smith papers here. We don’t have the original, but the letter was copied into Letterbook 1.

One interesting thing about the letter is that Joseph Smith himself copied it into the Letterbook; i.e., this is in Joseph’s own handwriting. In the Joseph Smith Papers, material written in Joseph’s own handwriting is put in bold text.

I think it’s important for those who consider Letter VII to better understand Oliver Cowdery and what motivated him. These letters give a good feel for what he was trying to do as a follower of Christ.

To me, they help demonstrate that the last thing he would have done in writing Letter VII would be to deceive or confuse the Saints.

Letter 2 Manchester Dececember 28th AD 1829
Brother Joseph Smith Jr–

It may Seam Superfluous for me to write as Father is going directly to your country but knowing that if a line from under my hand is as gladly received by you as one from you would at all times be by me I cannot in duty to my feelings let this oppertunity pass unimproved Your great anxiety will probably be to know of the progress of the work in the which we are So deeply engaged and possibly our Souls wellfare all of which Father can make known unto you it may look rather Strange to you to find that I have So Soon become a printer and you may cast in your mind what I Shall become next but be asured my cahngeing changing business has not in any degree I trust taken my mind from meditateing upon my mission which I have been called to fulfill nor of Slacking my diligence in prayr and fasting but but Some times I feel almost as though I could quit time and fly away and be at rest in the Bosom of my Redeemer for the many deep feelings of Sorrow and the many long Struglings in prayr of Sorrow for the Sins of my fellow beings and also for those who pretend to be of my faith almost as it were Seperateth my spirit from my mortal body do not think by this my Brother that I would give you to understand that I am freed from Sin and temptations no not by any means that is what I would that you Should undersstand is my anxiety at some times to be at rest in the Paradice of my God is to be freed from temptation &c.. You have our prayrs and our best wishes

Yours in Christ Amen

Joseph Smith Jr
P S we Send our respects to Emma &c——

I find it interesting here that Oliver has already become a printer. He writes, “it may look rather strange to you to find that I have so soon become a printer and you may cast in your mind what I shall become next but be assured my changing business has not in any degree I trust taken my mind from meditating upon my mission which I have been called to fulfill.” Of course, Oliver would go on to print not just the Book of Mormon, but newspapers and the Book of Commandments.

Joseph also copied a letter that Oliver wrote to Hyrum:

Let 3 Fayette June the 14 1829

These few lines I write unto you feeling anxious for your Steadfastness in the great cause of which you have been called to advocate and also feeling it a duty to write to you at every opportunity remember the worth of Souls is great in the Sight of God behold the Lord  Your God Suffered death upon the cross after the manner of the flesh wherefore he Suffered the pains of all men that all men might repent and come unto him and he and he hath risen again from the dead that he might bring all men unto him upon conditions of repentance and how great is his Joy in the Soul that repents and behold he commandeth all men to every where to repent and baptised and not only men but women children which have arrived to the Years of acountibility Stir up the minds of our friends aganst the time we come unto you that then they may be willing to take upon them the name of Christ for that is the name by which they Shall be called at the Last day and if we Know not not the name by which we are called I fear we shall be found on the hand I have many things to write but if the Lord will I shall Shortly come unto You Please tell Mrs Rockwell that those Shose shoes fit well and I received them as from the Lord tell him that whatever he does in the cause of Zion he will in no wise loose his reward Now may the Grace of God the Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ be and abide with you all Amen this from your BrotheOliver Cowdery A fellow labourer in the cause of Zion

P S give my love to all those who anxiously inquire after my property &c

Obviously it’s interesting that this letter quotes from D&C 18, which was given at Fayette in June.

Then there is an earlier letter from Oliver to Joseph, again copied by Joseph Smith himself:

Letter 4 Manchester November the 6th. 1829
Brother Joseph Smith Jr.

I received your leter yesterday bearing date Oct—. 22d I had long time expectted to hear from you and had often enquired at the post office for a letter and of course it was gladly received by us all we rejoice to hear that you are well and we also rejoice to hear that you have a prospect of obtaining Some mony and we further rejoice that you are at rest from your percecutors and we rejoice the most to learn of your faithfulness in christ my dear Brother when I think of the goodness of christ I feel no desire to live or Stay here upon the shores of this world of iniquity only toto Serve my maker and be if posible an instriment in his hands of doing Some good in his cause with his grace to assist me when I consider and try to realise what he has done for me I am astonished and amaised why Should I not be for while I was rushing on in sin and crouding my way down to that awful gulf he yet Strove with me and praised be his holy and Eternal name he has redeemed my Soul from endless torment and wo not for any thing that I have merited or any worthyness there was in me for there was none but it was in and through his own mercy wraught out by his own infinite wisdom by prepareing from all Eternity a means whereby man could be saved on conditions of repentance and faith on that infinite attonement which was to be made by a great and last Sacrifice which Sacrifice was the death of the only begotten of the Father yea the eternal Father of Heaven and of Earth that by his reserection all the Family of man might be braught back into the presance of God if therefore we follow christ in all things whatsoever he commandeth us and are buried with him by baptism into death that like as christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Eternal Father even So we also Should walk in newness of life and if we walk in newness of life to the end of this probation at the day of accounts we Shall be caught up in clouds to meet the Lord in the air but I need not undertake to write of the goodness of God for his goodness is unspeakable neither tell of the miteries mysteries of God for what is man that he can comprehend and Search out the wisdom of deity for Great is the misteries of Godliness therefore my only motive in this writing is to inform you of my prospects and hopes and my desires and my longing to be freed from Sin and to rest in the kingdom of my Savior and my redeemer when I begin to write of the mercies of God I know not when to Stop but time and paper fails I would inform that Hyram Hyrum Smith and Martin Harris went out to fayette last week they had a joyful time and found all in as good health as could be expected Martin thinks of comeing to the South in the course of two or three weeks and will callculate to take back that horse the printing goes rather Slow yet as the type founder has been sick but we expect that the type will be on and Mr, Granden Egbert B. Grandin Still think he will finish printing by the first of febuary we all send respects to yourself and Emma——

My dear Brother I cannot hardly feel to close this letter as yet without informing you that we received one from Mr—Thomas B. Marsh from Boston Masacuchusetts Massachusetts dated the 25th Oct—. he informs us that he wishes to hear from us and know of our wellfare he says he has talked considerable to Some respecting our work with freedom but others could not because they had no ears my great desire is that we may be faithful and obedient and humble children of Christ here that we may meet together in his kingdom of Eternal Glory to go no more out to Spend an Eternity where the wicked cese from troubling and the humbl and penitent child in christ finds rest I remain with much Esteem and profound respect your Brother and companion in tribulation and persecution in the kingdom of patience and hope of a Glorious reserrection in christ our Savior and redemer Amen

Joseph Smith Jr
Let 5 P S I have Just got to alma commandment to his Son in coppyinng the manscrip we are all in tolerable health here but my Father health is poor

Next is a letter to Oliver from Joseph, copied by Frederick G. Williams:

Harmony— Oct. 22d— 1829——
Letter, 6 Respected sir I would in form you that I arrived at home on sunday morning the 4th. after having a prosperous journy, and found all well the people are all friendly to us except a few who are in opposition to evry thing unless it is something that is axactly like themselves and two of our most formadable persacutors are now under censure and are cited to a trial in the church for crimes which if true are worse than all the Gold Book business. we do not rejoice in the affliction of our enimies but we shall be glad to have truth prevail there begins to be a great call for our books in this country the minds of the people are very much excited when they find that there is a copy right obtained and that there is really books about to be printed I have bought a horse of MrJosiah Stowell and want some one to come after it as soon as convenient Mr Stowell has a prospect of getting five or six hundred dollars he does not know certain that he can get it but he is a going to try and if he can get the money he wants to pay it in immediately for books we want to hear from you and know how you prosper in the good work, give our best respects to Father & Mother and all our brothers and Sisters to Mr. Martin Harris and all the company concerned tell them that our prayers are put up daily for them that they may be prospered in evry, good word and work and that they may be preserved from sin here and from the consequence of sin here after and now dear brother be faithful in the discharge of evry duty looking for the reward of the righteous and now may God of his infinite mercy keep and preserve us spotless untill his coming and receive us all to rest with him in eternal repose through the attonement of Christ our Lord Amen
Joseph Smith Jr

Source: Letter VII

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