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Howells, William - Letter to Franklin D. Richards - 1851/02/15

Dear brother F.D. Richards, It has been truly said, that the instinct which prompts men to cleave to the land of their nativity, is one of the strongest of our common nature.  This feeling is inherent to every Welshman; the mountains and vallies (sic), towns and villages, of his native land, enchanted as it were by the various romantic elegies of the Welsh Bards, cause his heart to cleave to the home of this fathers, shuddering at the thought of having his death bed surrounded by strangers, and his grave in a foreign land.

The love of country has given birth to the loftiest deed of patriotism the finest outbursts of poetry the most patient endurance of hardship and suffering, throughout the length and breadth of Wales.  The finest climates, the brightest skies, and the most fertile plains, in other parts of the world, have no charms for the Welshman; his language being, "Dim I mi y'w pob diddanwch, maes o wlad fy nghenedigaeth, (no pleasure for me, out of my native land.)

Knowing this to be the common feeling of my countrymen, at the same time finding hundreds lately leaving their country, (Abraham like) friends and relations, knowing but one language, sacrificing property and all that is dear, to commence a journey of some eight thousand miles ! described by their enemies as the valley of the shadow of death; and the place they are going to as the region where death reigns through famine, pestilence, and common destruction; yet, I find those Latter-day Welsh Saints (and I suppose the English are much the same) going forth bold as lions, in flocks, harmless as doves, happy as angels, singing Zion's songs, with their hearts filled with joy and gladness, having the same feeling as the Poet, who says:

"The Upper California, oh! that's the land for me;                          It lays between the mountains, and great Pacific Sea;                   

The Saints can be supported there, and taste the  sweets of liberty;  In Upper California, Oh! that's the land for me," &c.

The songs and feelings of the sixty Welsh Saints that left their native shore, a few days ago, to accompany Brother O. Pratt, with his three hundred English Saints, were the same as those of the scores and hundreds of their brethren who have gone before, proving that a stronger passion than the instinctive reluctance to leave home was planted in their bosom yes, stronger than death itself; for I have heard many testifying, that they would rather die with their faces Zionward, than remain in the confusion of Babylon, lest they should partake of her sins, and receive her plagues, for despising and disobeying God's counsel, "Come out of her my people."

Zion on the sides of the North, the city of the Great King, her beauty, order, strength, glory and prosperity, with the great gathering thereto, of the pure in heart, with songs of everlasting joy, are the subjects of their praises, and the theme of their conversation.  They go forth regardless of the taunts of the self-righteous religionists who surround them, that have the sneering, mocking spirit of the antediluvians, crying "peace, security, where is the promise of his coming we need no refuge the horizon appears well good today but better tomorrow be damned ye Latter-day Saints that trouble the peace of the world."  But, I find the thousands of Saints in Wales, with the spirit of Noah, warning all to fly from the wrath to come; preparing to gather themselves up with their families, to go forth after their brethren to the hiding place, geographically described by the inspired prophets of the Lord, so minutely, that he who runneth may read, understand, and know.

Wales, my dear sir, on one hand, is full of religious societies; the congregations of the various parties are numerous in all the towns and villages; their ministers, and local preachers, have power with the multitudes; and out of those various congregations men arise, speaking perverse things to draw disciples after them; lovers of their own selves, coveteous, boasters, proud, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, highminded, lovers of pleasure, having a form of godliness, denying the powerr thereof; ever learning, never able to come to a knowledge of the truth; waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.  They will not endure the sound doctrine of the gospel of the kingdom, containing apostles, prophets, &c., "for the perfecting of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ."  Faith in immediate revelation, and the super-natural agency of the Spirit of God.  Repentance, baptism for the remission of sins, the laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Spirit, with signs following believers, with the gifts of wisdom, knowledge, healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers (sic) kinds of tongues, and the interpretations of tongues, dreams, visions, ministry of angels, &c.  The Gospel in the fulness (sic) of its blessings they deny, and they will have others not to believe in such a gospel; but after their own lusts they heap up to themselves as teachers, having itching ears, turning away their ears to fables.  The Apostle Jude has truly said, "these are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, and their mouths speaking great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."  Such is the sad picture that now unveils itself to thousands connected with the various denominations of Wales, speaking with convincing power, in language that cannot be mistaken.  And thanks be to God, the multitude begin to see the above description, given in the oracles of truth of the false prophets and teachers of the last days, as applicable to those who deny the necessity of apostles, prophets, &c., for the perfection of the Saints; who have also changed the ordinances, and preach contrary to the promise of the Saviour, that signs shall follow believers, so that here are thousands halting between two opinions; and the light of truth and intelligence, is slowly, but surely breaking the spell.  For truth is mighty, and will prevail.  On the other hand, I find the various branches of the Church of Christ of Latter-day Saints in Wales, in love, peace, and harmony; increasing in grace, wisdom, and intelligence.  From their beloved president, Mr. William Phillips, down to the youngest members, there is but one mind, one faith, one spirit.  The unity of faith that prevails is truly astonishing, when we consider that the church is made up of members, who before they were joined in body, had as many conflicting doctrines, with the various denominations they belonged to, ebbing and flowing in their brains, as they are waves between the ebbing and flowing of the sea.  If I am allowed to trace the cause of this union, this oneness of spirit, I find it embodied in that important principle, "God has set in his church first apostles;" a principle that the spirit of the world will not receive, and the denial of this truth is the very fortress in which the powers of darkness for the present stand.  In the midst of the thousands of Saints in Wales, scattered here and there, not only in the towns and villages, but in the solitary vallies (sic) where there may not be more than one or two families, living by watching their sheep on the sides of the surrounding craggy mountains; I can scarcely find one who will not testify that they have been edified, consoled, comforted, made strong in spirit, in the unity of the faith, filled with wisdom and intelligence, in a word, clothed in salvation through the ministry of the apostles of the church of Christ now, in the same manner as the saints through the ministry of apostles formerly were made perfect for the work of the ministry, to the edifying of the body of Christ.  It is true, there are thousands of my brethren who have not seen one of the brothers, exalted by God into the office of apostleship; yet they know, through various testimonies, of their existence in the church; in truth, they know that the church could not exist without the Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the different officers of the kingdom.  The light of truth and intelligence, sent forth by the apostles, in epistles, treatises, and lectures, are read in the Welsh language by the brethren, often by the midnight lamp, after their return from their toilsome, perhaps sixteen hours, labour.  From the moment they read, the effect can be seen in the edification they have received, by the consecration they make, in dedicating body and spirit to God's service; causing their indefatigable exertions, in rolling forth the light of truth through the empire of darkness, to shine forth before men, until they have become a bye word and a proverb, "mawr a rhyfedd ydyw zeal y saint," (great and wonderful is the zeal of the Saints.) 

The distribution of the truth connected with the salvation of the present dispensation, through the medium of thousands of tracts in English and Welsh, will soon bring a harvest of Cambria's brave sons and daughters into Emmanuel's kingdom, that will cause the heavens to rejoice, the votaries of darkness to groan, and the gates of hell to tremble.

Has not brother Kelsey's courage, with the faithful band in London, caused the church universally to rejoice"  The blow he is going to give the kingdom of darkness, in sending forth nearly thirty thousand messengers, each having the sacred sword of the spirit of truth, carrying the savour of life unto life, or of death unto death, wheresoever they go.  These blessed messengers enter into the closets of rich and poor; they wrestle in the conviction and conversion of thousands, in a "still small voice" that cleave to be honest in heart, with an undissolvable (sic) attraction. 

I was too bashful myself, when a member of the Baptist denomination, to attend publicly to the ministry of the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But a poor widow, supported with her family by the poor fare of the parish, found means to get a tract, which she gave me; which, like the little captive maid in Isreal, in the house of Naaman the leper, convinced me of the poverty of my religion, the power of God unto salvation revealed in connection with all who obeyed the ordinances of the gospel that brought life and immortality into light.  So to Jordan, or rather to a river, I went with an officer duly called and authorized by God to administer the ordinance of baptism for the remission of sin, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit which I received through the laying on of hands, which spirit testified with my spirit, that I was an adopted child into God's family, that my sins were forgiven, that the person that officiated was a servant of God, and that the church I was in, was no other than the House of God, and the very gates of heaven.  Through the goodness of God, I soon brought my family into the church to rejoice with me, and some scores besides, who have brought their families and others to rejoice in the common salvation of all.  So I rejoice in seeing the little stone tolling forth in my native land through the medium of tracts, &c., increasing in strength, velocity, and stature, crushing the image (false religion) into dust, and becoming already a great mountain, and will soon fill the whole earth with the glory of God's power and goodness.

Verily, greatly blessed will that brother, sister, or family be, that will contribute their mite to get the gospel preached through the medium of tracts, &c., to the poor, bringing into their possession the true riches of eternity.  "He that converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."

Wm. Howell.  

     Liverpool, Feb. 15th, 1851. 

Immigrants:

Howells, William

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