Dear Brother Phelps:--I must say that it is with no ordinary feeling, that I endeavor to write a few lines to you in answer to yours of the 29th ultimo; at the same time I am rejoiced at the privilege granted me.
You may in some measure realize what my feelings, as well as Elder Rigdon's and Brother Hyrum's were, when we read your letter truly our hearts were melted into tenderness and compassion when we ascertained your resolves. I can assure you, I feel a disposition to act on your case in a manner that will meet the approbation of Jehovah (whose servant I am), and agreeable to the principles of truth and righteousness, which have been revealed; and, inasmuch as long-suffering, patience and mercy, have ever characterized the dealings of our Heavenly Father towards the humble and penitent, I feel disposed to copy the example, cherish the same principles, and by so doing, be a savior to my fellow men.
It is true that we have suffered much in consequence of your behavior the cup of gall, already full enough for mortals to drink, was indeed tilled to overflowing, when you turned against us. One with whom we had oft taken sweet counsel together, and enjoyed many refreshing seasons from the Lord had it been an enemy, we could have borne it....
However, the cup has been drunk, the will of our Father has been done, and we are yet alive, for which we thank the Lord. After having been delivered from the hands of wicked men, by the mercy of our God, we say it is your privilege to be delivered from the powers of the adversary, be brought into the Liberty of God's dear children, and again take your stand among the Saints of the Most High, and by diligence, humility, and love unfeigned, commend yourself to our God and your God, and to the Church of Jesus Christ.
Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again, to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal.
Your letter was read to the Saints last Sunday, and an expression of their feelings was taken, when it was unanimously resolved, that W. W. Phelps should be received into fellowship.
"Come on, dear brother, since the war is past,
For friends at first, are friends again at last."
Yours as ever,
Joseph Smith, Jun.
*W. W. Phelps had left the Church and testified against it during the Missouri persecutions. He wrote to Joseph Smith, expressing great sorrow with his course, asking to be reinstated as a member. Here is Joseph's revealing response.
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