Below I have copied and pasted a transcription from the Joseph Smith Papers publication of the LDS Church Historian Press. The letter is written in September, 1833, while Joseph was working on a series of lectures which would eventually become scripture. They would not be published until 1835 as Lectures on Faith. But the thinking of Joseph in September 1833 shown in this letter to his uncle show how the analysis of the later published Lectures on Faith came from the mind of Joseph Smith. This version is taken from the website, but a printed version appears in JS Papers, Documents Vol. 3, pp. 303-308.
Kirtland Mills Ohio sept 26 1833
Respected Uncle Silas
It is with feelings of deep interest for the well fare of mankind which fills my mind on the reflection that all were formed by the hand of him who will call the same to give an impartial account of all their works on that great day to which you and myself in common with them are bound, that I take up my pen and seat myself in an attitude to address a few though imperfect lines to you for your perusal.
I have no doubt but that you will agree with me that men will be held accountable for the things which they have and not for the things they have not or that all the light and intell igence communicated to them from their benifficen [beneficent] creator wh ether it is much or little by the same they in justice will be judged, and that they are required to yield obedience and improve upon that and that only which is given for man is not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds [p. 228]
out of the mouth of God
Seeing that the Lord has never given the world to unders tand by anything heretofore revealed that he had ceased forever to speak to his creatures when saught unto in a proper manner why should it be thought a thing incredible that he should be pleased to speak again in these last days for their salvation Perhaps you may be surprized at this assertion that I should say for the salvation of his creatures in these last days since we have already in our possesion a vast volume of his word which he has previously given But you will admit that the word spoken to Noah was not suff icent for Abraham or it was not required of Abraham to leave the land of his nativity and seek an Inheritance in a strange
land Country upon the word spoken to Noah but for himself
he obtain ed promises at the hand of the Lord and walked in
that perf ection that he was called the friend of God Isaac the
promi sed seed was not required to rest his hope upon the
promises made to his father Abraham but was priviledged with the
assu rance of his approbation in the sight of Heaven by
the direct voice of the Lord to him If one man can live upon the
revelat ions given to another might not I with propriety ask
why the n ecessity then of the Lord speaking to Isaac as he did
as is record ed in the 26 chapter of Genesis for the Lord there
repeats or rath er promises again to perform the oath which he had
previously sworn unto Abraham and why this repet[it]ion to Isaac
Why was not the first promise as sure for Isaac as it was for Abraham. Was not Isaac Abraham's son And could he not place
implicit confidence in the word of his father as being a man
Perhaps you may say that he was a very peculiar man and different from men in these last days consequently the Lord favored him with blessings peculiar and different as he was different from men in this age I admit that he was a peculiar man and was not only peculiarly blessed but greatly bless ed. But all the peculiarity that I can discover in the [p. 229]
man or all the difference between him and men in this age is that he was more holy and more perfect before God and came to him with a purer heart and more faith than men in this day.
The same might be said on the subject of Jacobs history Why was it that the Lord spake to him concerning the same prom ise after he had made it once to Abraham and renewed it to Isaac why could not Jacob rest contented upon the word spoken to his fathers When the time of the promise drew nigh for the deliverance of the children of Israel from the land of Egypt why was it necessary that the Lord should begin to speak to them The promise or word to Abraham was that his seed should serve in bondage and be afflicted four hun dred years and after that they should come out with great substance Why did they not rely upon this promise and when they had remained in Egypt in bondage four hundred [years] come out without waiting for further revelation but act entirely upon the promise given to Abraham that they should come out.
Paul said to his Hebrew brethren that God b[e]ing more abu ndantly willing to show unto the heirs of his promises the immu tability of his council [“]confirmed it by an oath.” He also exhorts them who throug[h] faith and patience inherit the pro mises.
[“]Notwithstanding we (said Paul) have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us which hope we have as an an chor of the soul both sure and steadfast and which entereth into that within the vail.” Yet he was careful to press upon them the necessity of continuing on untill they as well as those who inherited the promises might have the assurance of their salvat ion confirmed to them by an oath from the mouth of him who
not lie for that seemed to be the example an ciently and Paul
holds it out to his brethren as an object atta inable in his day
and why not[?] I admit that by reading [p. 230]
the scriptures of truth saints in the days of Paul could learn beyond the power of contradiction that Abraham Isaac and Jacob had the promise of eternal life confirmed to them by an oath of the Lord but that promise or oath was no assurance to them of their salvation but they could by walking in the footsteps <and> continuing in the faith of their fathers obtain for themselves an oath for confirmation that they were meet to be partake[r]s of the inheri tance with the saints in light.
If the saints in the days of the Apostles were priviledged to take the saints for example and lay hold of the same promises and attain to the same exhalted priviledges of knowing that their names were writen in the Lambs book of life and that they were sealed there as a perpetual memorial before the face of the most high will not the same faithfulness the same pur ity of heart and the same faith bring the same assurance of eternal life and that in the same manner to the children of men now in this age of the world[?]
I have no doubt but that the holy prophets and apostles and saints in ancient days were saved in the Kingdom of God. Neither do I doubt but that they held converse and com munion with them while in the flesh as Paul said to the cori nthian brethren that the Lord Jesus showed himself to above 500 saints at one time after his resuretion [resurrection]. Job said that he knew that his Redeemer lived and that he should see him in the flesh in the latter days. I may believe that Enoch wa lked with God <and by faith was translated.
And I may [believe] that Noah was a
perfect man in his generation & also walked
with God.> I may believe that Abraham communed with God and conversed
with angels. I may believe that Isaac obtained a renewal
of the covenant made to Abraham by the direct voice of
the Lord. I may believe that Jacob conversed with holy angels
and heard the word of his Maker. that he wrestled with the
angel until he prevailed and obtained a blessing I may believe
that Elijah was taken to Heaven in a chariot of fire
with fiery horses I may believe that the [p. 231]
saints saw the Lord and conversed with him face to face aft er his resurection I may believe that the Hebrew Church came to Mount Zion and unto the city of the living God the Heaven ly Jerusalem and to an inumerable company of angels. I may believe that they looked into Eternity and saw the Judge of all, and Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; but will all this purchase an assurance for me, or waft me to the regions of Eternal day with my garments spotless, pure, and white? Or, must I not rather obtain for myself, by my own faith and dilligence, in keeping the commandments of the Lord, an assurance of salvation for myself And have I not an equal priviledge with the ancient saints? and will not the Lord hear my prayers, and listen to my cries, as soon [as] he ever did to their’s if I come to him in the manner they did or is he a respecter of persons?
I must now close this subject for the want of time; and I may say with propriety at the begining; we would be pleased to see you in Kirtland and more pleased to have you embrace the New Covenant. I remain.
Yours affectionatelyJoseph Smith Jr [p. 232]