Prest. Smith rose; read the 14th Chap. of Ezekiel--Said the Lord had declared by the prophet that the people should each one stand for himself and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish Church--that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls--applied it to the present state of the church of Latter Day Saints--
Said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall--that they were depending on the prophet hence were darkened in their minds from neglect of themselves--envious toward the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.
¶ There is another error which opens a door for the adversary to enter. As females possess refined feelings and sensitiveness; they are also subject to an over much zeal which must ever prove dangerous, and cause them to be rigid in a religious capacity-- Should be arm'd with mercy notwithstanding the iniquity among us. Said he had been instrumental in bringing it to light-- melancholy and awful that so many are under the condemnation of the devil & going to perdition With deep feeling said that they are our fellows--we lov'd them once. Shall we not encourage them to reformation?
¶ We have not forgiven them seventy times--perhaps we have not forgiven them once. There is now--a day of salvation to such as repent and reform--they should be cast out from this Society yet we should woo them to return to God lest they escape not the damnation of hell!1
¶ When there is a mountain top there is also a valley--we should act in all things as a proper medium to every immortal spirit. Notwithstanding the unworthy are among us, the virtuous should not from self importance grieve and oppress needlessly those unfortunate ones, even these should be encourag'd to hereafter live to be honored by this Society who are the best portions of community. Said he had two things to recommend to the Society, to put a double watch over the tongue. No organiz'd body can exist without this at all. All organiz'd bodies have their peculiar evils, weaknesses and difficulties--the object is to make those not so good, equal with the good and ever hold the keys of power which will influence to virtue and goodness. Should chasten and reprove and keep it all in silence, not even mention them again, then you will be established in power, virtue and holiness and the wrath of God will be turn'd away. One request to the Prest. and Society that you search yourselves--the tongue is an unruly member--hold your tongues about things of no moment, a little tale will set the world on fire. At this time the truth on the guilty should not be told openly--Strange as this may seem yet this is policy. We must use precaution in bringing sinners to justice lest in exposing their heinous sins, we draw the indignation of a gentile world upon us (and to their imagination justly too)
¶ It is necessary we hold an influence in the world and thus spare ourselves an extermination; and also accomplish our end in spreading the gospel in holiness in the earth.
¶ If we were brought to desolation, the disobedient would find no help. There are some who are obedient yet man cannot steady the ark--my arm cannot do it--God must steady it. To the iniquitous show yourselves merciful. I am advis'd by some of the heads of the church to tell the Relief Society to be virtuous--but to save the Church from desolation and the sword beware, be still, be prudent, Repent, reform but do it in a way to not destroy all around you. I do not want to cloak iniquity--All things contrary to the will of God, should be cast from us, but dont do more hurt than good with your tongues--be pure in heart--Said Jesus ye shall do the work which ye see me do--Jesus designs to save the people out of their sins. These are the grand key words for the Society to act upon.
¶ If I were not in your midst to aid and council you, the devil would overcome you. I want the innocent to go free--rather spare ten iniquitous among you than condemn one innocent one. "Fret not thyself because of evil doers," God will see to it.
1. Rumors about secret plural marriage were spreading partly fueled by the John C. Bennett fiasco. Joseph Smith's current and future wives and those of polygamists sanctioned by him were in danger of being caught up in the furor over Bennett's conquests. Joseph's urging to treat these matters with confidentiality extends, he says in this address, partly from the volitile political situation in Hancock County and in Illinois generally. As knowledge of polygamy spread and internal dissension over it grew, together with Emma Smith's mercurial disposition in regard to it, the Relief Society became a major problem for Joseph, rather than an asset of social charity. See 26May44 for example.