Happiness Letter

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  • Post last modified:August 7, 2022
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The following letter was written by Joseph Smith Jr. to Nancy Rigdon, the daughter of early Church Leader Sidney Rigdon, in 1842. It may also be found recorded in Joseph Smith, History Volume D, dated August 27, 1842. This Epistle was voted on and sustained as canon for use in the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship by the Assembly of Saints April 6, 2020. It will be included in the Epistles of Joseph Smith Jr. in the Doctrines of the Saints. 

  1. Happiness is the object and design of our existence, and will be the end thereof if we pursue the path that leads to it;
  2. And this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.
  3. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know, unless we comply with or keep those we have already received.
  4. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, right under another.
  5. God said thou shalt not kill,—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy.
  6. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed.
  7. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire.
  8. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added.
  9. So with Solomon—first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him,
  10. And with it every desire of his heart, even things which may be considered abominable to all who do not understand the order of heaven only in part,
  11. But which, in reality, were right, because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.
  12. A parent may whip a child, and justly too, because he stole an apple;
  13. Whereas, if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite, there would have been no stripes—
  14. All the pleasures of the apple would have been received, and all the misery of stealing lost.
  15. This principle will justly apply to all of God’s dealings with his children.
  16. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right, and ’tis proper that we should enjoy his gifts and blessings whenever and wherever he is disposed to bestow;
  17. But if we should seize upon these same blessings and enjoyments without Law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to go down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret.
  18. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed;
  19. And as God has designed our happiness, the happiness of all his creatures, He never has, He never will institute an ordinance, or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his laws and ordinances.
  20. Blessings offered, but rejected are no longer blessings, but become like the talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant—
  21. The proffered good returns of the giver, the blessing is bestowed on those who will receive, and occupy;
  22. For unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly; but unto him that hath not, or will not receive, shall be taken away that which he hath, or might have had.
  23. “Be wise to-day, ’tis madness to defer.
  24. Next day the fatal precedent may plead;
  25. Thus on till wisdom is pushed out of time,” –Into eternity.
  26. Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive,
  27. And at the same time is as terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect every false way than we are apt to suppose Him to be.
  28. He will be enquired of by His children—He says ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;
  29. But if ye will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds,
  30. But no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things, who will listen to my voice, and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent,
  31. For I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the laws of my kingdom,
  32. For all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy.

A few days after this letter was written, President Joseph Smith Jr. had the following to say addressing the Sisterhood of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo:

“I have come here to bless you. The Society has done well— their principles are to practice holiness— God loves you and your prayers in my behalf shall avail much— Let them not cease to ascend to God in my behalf. The enemy will never get weary— I expect he will array every thing against me— I expect a tremendous warfare. He that will war the Christian warfare will have the angels of devils and all the infernal powers of darkness continually array’d against him. When wicked and corrupt men oppose, it is a criterion to judge if a man is warring the Christian warfare. When all men speak evil of you, blessed are ye &c. Shall a man be considered bad, when men speak evil of him? No: If a man stands and opposes the world of sin, he may expect all things array’d against him. But it will be but a little season and all these afflictions will be turn’d away from us inasmuch as we are faithful and are not overcome by these evils. By seeing the blessings of the endowment rolling on, and the kingdom increasing and spreading from sea to sea; we will rejoice that we were not overcome by these foolish things.” -Joseph Smith Jr. August 31, 1842 from The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo Minute Book, pgs 81-82

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Alexei Mattanovich, Apostle
3 years ago

I vote that this letter not become part of the open canon, because it was evidently of a more personal nature and drew on the context of their relationship. There may be some benefit to the reading of this letter, but without that context and further explanation, some of the verses here may be misapplied or misused, and can lead one to distort the nature of God in his or her understanding.

David, First Elder
3 years ago

I vote yes as this is an Epistle so it will have less weight than a revelation yet is clearly inspired.

3 years ago

5 votes yes from South Carolina

3 years ago

I approve the scriptures and revelations presented. Yes in all.

Christian Amparano
Christian Amparano
3 years ago

5 positive votes from here in California

Victoria Ramirez
Victoria Ramirez
3 years ago

My votes from Conference 2020: Pending Scriptures, All listed – yes

Kristine, Bishop
3 years ago

I vote yes.

Karen Bradshaw
Karen Bradshaw
1 year ago

God gave us parents to guide and protect us. Fanny Alger was only16 years old and was a maid in Joseph Smiths house when he seduced her. Oliver Cowdrey his first councilor, called it a dirty, nasty affair! Joseph pretends to be a servant of righteousness, but teaches his followers to break the commandments of God.

This letter was written after Nancy Rigdon said, no to his proposal of a spiritual union, Sidney Rigdon’s back as well, it was done in secret. Evil deeds are always done in secret. Ephesians 5:11 Have no fellowship with the evil works of darkness, but rather expose them.
What are the signs of a cult? Think about it for a bit? They lure young naïve people into their web of lies. Promising ultimate love, acceptance, kindness and understanding. New members brought into the fold eventually lose there autonomy as the leader dictates where they go and who they can speak to as well as what they are to spend there days doing for the Kingdom of God, as well as what they read, eat, wear, how they do hair even and eventually leaders gain control over sexuality and marriage and in some cases perpetuated rape and financial ruin upon their innocent victims.

HL ( 2. And this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God.) Where is the virtue? Where is the uprightness? Where is the faithfulness, or the holiness? He was doing all this behind his wives back mind you. What’s Holy, upright, faithful, and virtues about breaking Gods commandment, “Thou shall not commit Adultery!”

I know all this from first hand experiences. I was born and raised in one of these Polygamist Cults. It took me Fifty years before God lead me out and another two years of being taught Biblical Truth by reading the Bible from the new eyes of faith and God hears the cries of all who seek him. The Bible is the infallible word of God. It never changes. God can be trusted when he speaks to us. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Mathew 24:35

Reply to  Karen Bradshaw
1 year ago

God bless you Karen. No one said it better than what you just stated.

Karen Bradshaw
Karen Bradshaw
Reply to  Brian
5 months ago

Thank you Brian, are you the one who did this post last year?