Letter to Orson Pratt, dated Jan. 6, 1849, at Merthyr Tydfil. (vol 11:38-42)
LETTER FROM DAN JONES TO PRESIDENT PRATT
Merthyr, Jan. 6, 1849.
Dear President Pratt,--After a fortnight's constant pressure of business, which beset my little barque like a raging tornado, I at length find time enough to report that I am still afloat and sea-worthy, with my colors nailed to the mast head; and to give vent to the first impulse of the heart, I wish you and your dear family a happy new year in Babylon, and a thousand more happy years in Zion!
I cannot say that I regret not coming to meet you and dear President Spencer at Birmingham, because that was impossible, whatever may have been the sacrifice of feelings; but it was with regret that I, and thousands more, were disappointed by your absence from our Conference, which was anxiously anticipated until the last moment.
The last Welsh General Conference, which was held last Sunday, Dec. 31, and following days, was much the largest and most interesting of any other; our hall which will hold two thousand people, was so crowded before the morning service commenced that we had to engage another hall nearly as large, which was also soon filled to overflowing, and continued so for two days with but little intermission. Scores had come from one to two hundred miles; all the hotels, taverns and private lodgings in the town, so far as I have heard, were thronged like an Egyptian fair; yet order, union and love were so characteristic of the Saints throughout, that the Babylonians were astonished.
The statistics of the morning meeting showed the total number of branches in Wales to be 55, and organised 17 new branches; including 156 elders, 180 priests, 147 teachers, 67 deacons. Baptized since last conference 1001; total members 3603; total baptized in the last year 1939; which will average nearly 1000 a year since I have been in Wales, with brighter prospects for the future. This fills my soul with joy and gladness unspeakable, because the Lord God of Joseph so abundantly fulfils the predictions of the devoted martyr on my head; and because I hear my own kin and nation rejoice in the blessings of heaven, and show forth the wonderful power of God in the language and land that gave them birth; and in the prospects of a heaven on earth in Zion.
In the afternoon meeting, the power of God and also the power of darkness showed a wide and marvellous contrast. Whilst I was describing the beauties of Zion, together with the importance of building up there a temple to the Most High God, and the resulting consequences thereof to the Saints' glory and the overthrow of Babylon, the prince of darkness thought that I was getting to be too traitorous in the midst of his dominions; he could not bear such good and powerful truths, so he sent a legion of evil spirits into the hall at that time, as though he was determined with one grand rally to storm our little fortress, and demolish our citadel with impunity. In five minutes after their arrival, which was seen by some, three females were possessed and many more nearly as bad; however, I perceived the enemy's design, and having command of the post, I lost no time in returning him a heavy broadside with the artilleries of heaven by commanding every evil spirit in the place to depart in the name of Jesus Christ, which was responded to by all the audience with such powerful Amens! that the neighbours thought it thundered, that all the devils, except three, run away in a fright; and seen by all others in the place, and some of our worst persecutors, having come there with evil intent, confessed that God was with us, and shouted Amen as loud as any. There were hundreds of young Saints who had never witnessed the like and who were rather timid, which
caused me to maintain the platform for more than an hour to teach them the wiles of the devil, and to encourage them to be brave in the power of God, &c. In the mean time I had sent some elders to those possessed, to rebuke the spirit, who were all this time making the loudest noise with me and each other, calling out--"Old Captain, have you come to trouble us? d--d old captain we will hold you a battle." Many other expressions used would be indecent to utter and others useless I suppose; but some spoke English through one that knew no English of herself, and revealed many mysteries; others spoke in tongues, praying for a re-inforcement of their kindred spirits, and chiding some dreadfully by names, such as Borona, Menta, Philo, &c. &c. for not obeying their mandates with greater alacrity and courage. The spirits left one of the three females at the first rebuke, but the others cursed all the elders, calling many by names, with whom the females were totally unacquainted. They said they were at Carthage in the slaughter of the prophets; we compelled them to acknowledge the authority of the priesthood, loudly, to the astonishment of all. They swore that they would not depart without "Old Brigham Young, from America, would ome, that they would have to obey him; but that they held an office higher than any others." I questioned one of them on that, whether he had ever possessed any other person in Wales? "Yes, very many!" was the reply. I asked
"did you ever leave one unless compelled?" he replied "No, nor will I go from here either." Then I rebuked him for telling falsehood, inasmuch as that Bringham Young had never visited Wales, and that he had better business than to come and wait on such beings as him, at which he sneered and laughed, that echoed through the hall and alarmed many; at the same time the streets were crowded with strangers and policemen, drawn there by the noise, and shortly the whole town was in an uproar, like Ephesus of old. They derided us shamefully for our disappointment in our expectation of the "Old Apostle to the Conference." But enough of this comedy, I must hasten to more important subjects lest I weary your patience, for I have much more to say; I will only add the sequel, which was as follows:--Having understood that these two females had been frequently possessed elsewhere; had the spirits rebuked out of them as frequently by the power of the priesthood, and again giving way to them and living in transgression, I found out the reason why; the spirits assured us so often, "that they had a right to them, and that they (the females) had broken their covenant." The instructions of our beloved Brother Hyde to me, "to cut off such after the third offence" came forcibly to my mind, the which, before I uttered it, the evil spirits told loud enough to all, which together with many other instances which they gave vent to, prove, to a demostration, that these
spirits have a way of knowing one's mind. The spirits said we could not cast them out, because some doubted in their minds; and one of them told me to my face, in a harsh voice, "you doubt yourself;" which was too true, because that I saw that the Lord had no alternative under the circumstances, but either to turn a deaf ear to our prayers or disregard the counsel of Brother Hyde; and I was pretty confident that he would do the former, though to our great annoyance and mortification for the time. I had not understood all about these females at that time, or I would have chosen another and surer method. The next I did was to close the meeting, and called the elders together with the females (who were all this time biting, kicking, and swearing most awfully, and being held by men) and explained to them the principle above alluded to; and when I proposed to cut the females off from the Church, all agreed to it; and after laughing, deriding, and saying that, that's what they wanted, the spirits left them, both in less than five minutes; so that the females recovered themselves, dressed their upper garments which they had previously torn off themselves, and went home without any inconvenience. On their way home they were informed that they had been excommunicated, which they had not previously understood, though done over their heads, and they both wept bitterly.
In that night's meeting our hall was more crowded than before, if possible, and I took the liberty to show the cunning craft of the devil; to caution the Saints not to give a place for evil spirits by transgression, and made an example of the foregoing, to prove to the world that the very devils incarnate testify the divinity of this Church and Gospel. and that the evil spirits had given the "old captain" such a strong testimony and good recommendation as their inveterate foe. I had the satisfaction to know that even the devils, by this affair, had done much good to the Saints and sinners, proving that "all things work together for good to those that love the Lord;" and this affair too! During all this time the spirit had led one of the females back, though late, but the place was too crowded for her to get inside, and he kept her running about the streets in front of our hall, shrieking, cursing, barking and howling the most hideous noises imaginable, which at times penetrated the assembly , but failed to get inside, so that we had a glorious meeting in despite of him and all his legions; and after speaking with my whole strength for seven hours and a half, with but little cessation, I closed the meeting, and disbanded our noble battalion, fully determined to be more valiant than ever.
Moday morning, at ten o'clock, crowded house still; gave instruction on tithing, emigration, calling, and ordination of officers; organized 17 new branches; organized 6 new conferences, and called, elders 18, priests 40, teachers 16, deacons 7, making a total of officers now in Wales, elders 174, priests 220, teachers 163, deacons 74, and 10 conferences. Appointed presidents and counsellors over all the conferences and branches; the spirit and power of God resting on all, and filled the Hall to the exclusion of all evil spirits, to his glory and our great good and joy.
Afternoon meeting, delivered my farewell address, with my charge to the presidents of conference: their responsibility and reward, if faithful. After that, according to previous instructions given me by our beloved President Woodruff and others, I called and organized a first presidency for Wales, (subject to the presidency at Liverpool, of course,) comprising a president and his two counsellors, to preside over all the conferences, viz.: Elder William Philips, a sterling and tried man, president; Abel Evans, an indefatigable veteran, his first counsellor and travelling president through the conferences in North Wales, and to see that all officers open new ground and teach righteous principles throughout Wales; Elder John Davies, who is a faithful man, to be his second counsellor. Elder Davies is a master Welsh printer, owns a press and type, is appointed over the publishing department; and I have changed the name of our monothly magazine at the end of the 4th vol. to be "Zion's Trumpet," to increase its circulation to 2000, and to increase its size eight pages, for the same price as before. Elder Davies is to be the editor of it; also a corresponding secretary and clerk for the church; for all of which important offices he is duly qualified by a great portion of the spirit of God. These three were blessed, in presence of the vast assembly, with their duties, and responsibilities made known unto them to serve the Saints; and, with
many appeals and exhortations to them and the Saints, I introduced them on the platform to the assembly, and told the Saints that this presidency was the most precious "new year's gift" which I, or heaven, could give them and they, with tears of joy streaming down their faces, received them to their bosoms, and pledged themselves to love, honor, obey, and sustain them by faith and prayers, with uplifted hands, and the scene thereby presented, and the sensation produced when they saw their "little captain" divesting himself of every office which he had held in their midst so long, and throwing garment after garment on some ten men; but above all, when he stripped off the only remaining garment or office voluntarily, and clothed these three presidents with it, it was more than but few could bear: many burst out into unrestrained tears aloud. Such love I never before witnessed since the day--the awful and eventful day--when our beloved and martyred prophet left Nauvoo for Carthage! "Twas past description; sweet, but yet bitter! I could only console them by saying that I was going before to prepare a place for them, and that the probability is that I will be sent back to serve them again ere long. This in a measure soothed their sorrows, so that I could proceed with the business of the meeting, all of which is too tedious to relate here, and never can be related by any I suppose, only by the recording angel from on high; and I can be related by any
I suppose, only by the recording angel from on high; and I pray that the business done may be engraven on every heart present, as it were with a pen of iron on a rock, to redound to their eternal good, and to the glory of Him whose we are, whose work we do, and who alone is worthy of all praise and honor.
Evening meeting. Several elders addressed the audience in a spirited manner on important principles, especially on the necessity of havaing more labourers out into new places to preach the gospel, w hich had a good effect on several of our young elders and priests, inasmuch that many of them promised to break out on the right and left, and double their diligence as soon as the weather will permit of our young elders and priests, inasmuch that many of them promised to break out on the right and left, and double their diligence as soon as the weather will permit of out-door preaching. Afterwards i delivered my faarewell address to the Saints in general, teaching the absolute necessity of their working righteousness, and of paying their honest debts, even to the Babylonians; and inasmuch as they expect to be welcomed to Zion, "wherein dwelleth righteousness," they have to practice the principles of righteousness at home first. To fathers I told their duty towards their families to prepare them to receive the patriarchal organization of families on Mount Zion. To husbands, their duty to their wives, and wives to their husbands, and children to their parents, youth, male and female, to consecrate themselves to the work and glory of God, and to the buildling up of Zion. Then I addressed the people of the world, hundreds of whom had come there "to hear the captain's farewell;" and, strange, even to myself and all, that notwithstanding the
debilitated state of my lungs for a length of time, yet, by the prayers of the Saints who were constantly praying for my voice to hold out, the Lord renewed my strength adequate to the work to be done, and bestowed on his humble servant more of his spirit than ever hitherto, and enabled him to deal out a portion of cousel to all in due season, so that every soul, so far as I know, Saint and sinner, praised God and rejoiced in all that was said and done; and although I was too much engaged for ten days to eat but one meal per day, yet, thank heaven, I think that I have strength enough yet to do my duty, and to prepare a company of about 300 Welsh Saints to leave early in February.
All kinds of lying stories that the father of lies and his emissaries can invent are being told of me: such as, that I am going to take this company over and sell them as slaves. I am called a swindler, thief, and every thing but what I really am; even this is preached out of pulpits, and published in the religious magazines of the day unblushingly; and when I walk the streets I am frequently gazed at as though I had hoofs and horns; and, with the fingers of scorn pointed at me, they say, "there is the man who is taking all the property of Latter-day Devils, and is going to sell them as slaves," &c. This is by no means uncommon, but a general topic among rich and poor, far and near. Owing to these charges I have pursued a bold and fearless course by challenging the world, in the evening meeting, to prove that I had ever asked any person for one shilling since I came into Wales; or that I owed any man a shilling; and that, if I had robbed any one of a shilling, I was ready then to pay it back a hundred fold. Thus I challenged my accuser to his face for some time, but in vain: no accuser appeared, nor is there one out of hell to be found that will stand by my side and say it. I have frequently published this as a standing challenge to all, and dared any person to prove me guilty of one immoral act to Saint or sinner. I have done so principally to rid the blessed gospel which i preach, and the beloved Saints w hich I leave behind, from
reproach, when I am gone far from them, and will have left them as lambs amidst ravenous wolves. Furthermore did I prove that I was so far from deserving the accusation of taking people's money, that I bore my own expenses and my family's, to come from a distance of nearly 6000 miles, to preach for nothing to my own kindred;--that I have preached in all the principal towns of the Principality without having a night's lodging, or a meal's victuals, unless I paid for them; and that I have not to this day even asked, or laid any plans to be remunerated; and furthermore I had it to boast of, that I not only came here but intend to pay my own and family's expenses back again to Zion, without levying one collection for that purpose on the Saints. I seek not money for reward, but the riches that fade not away.
But to proceed: several resolutions were unanimously adopted; among others to sustain the presidency in Zion, and the presidency in England, also the presidency in Wales, by every possible effort. Also, "Resolved that the Saints in Wales desire to manifest their high approbation of, and do testify of, the faithful discharge of our beloved brother and president Captain D. Jones's laborious, important, and responsible duties, under all circumstances; and we humbly confess that we know of no words by which we can describe the respect, the love and unlimited confidence that we have in him, nor how highly we appreciate his inestimable services while among us; and we shall ever pray that the God of heaven will reward him, for no one else can compensate him as we would wish; that He will bless him and his amiable consort with all the blessing of heaven and of earth, as he may need. This is the desire of all the Saints in Wales without, so far as we know, one exception. Amen."
Other resolutions were passed which would be too tedious to write here, as I have trespassed far more than I had intended on your time, and my only apology is that I believe you will be glad to have the details of our last conference, and to know in what position I leave the vineyard of my choice; also if I have done anything wrong in all the above transactions that you may know and rectify it, if right, to secure an interest in your prayers for its success; and, inasmuch as I am going away, I will not trouble you with such a lengthy epistle again soon.
In great haste I submit you these items, and remain your obedient servant and brother in Christ,