SHIELDS header banner /w logo

Heber C. Kimball


Missionary Letter
dated: Sept. 2, 1837
Apostle Heber C. Kimball
From The Elder's Journal, pp. 4-7


Preston, Lancashire, Eng. Sept. 2, 1837

     My Dear Companion,

          I take this opportunity to write a few lines to you, to let you know I am in  the land of the living, I am a pilgrim on the earth, and a stranger in a strange land far from my home, and among those that seek my life because I preach the truth and those things that will save their lives in the day of tribulation.  On the 18th of July [1837] we landed in Liverpool in the forenoon.  I had peculiar feelings when we landed, the spirit of God burned in my breast, and at the same time I felt to covenant before God to live a new life, and to pray that the Lord would help me to do the same.  We remained there three days, resting our bodies.  On Saturday, the 22nd, we took coach for Preston, the distance 31 miles; we arrived there at four in the afternoon.

     After we had unloaded our things, Brother Fielding had gone to see his brother, and Brother Goodson had gone to get lodgings.  All at once I looked up.  There was a large flag before me with large gilded letters written thereon, "TRUTH WILL PREVAIL."  We said, "amen, so let it be Lord."  The same evening one of the clergy desired an interview with us.  Elders Hyde and Goodson and myself went to see him, conversed with him and one Mr. Watson until about ten in the evening when we retired to our lodging.  The next morning we agreed to go and hear him preach; we did so.  After he got through, he gave out an appointment for one of us at three in the afternoon.  It fell to my lot to preach first.  I spake upon the first principles of the gospel and what the Lord was doing in these last days.  It caused the people to stare at me.  After I got through, Brother Hyde bore testimony and many receiv-

[P. 4, Column 2]
ed our testimony, for they date their conviction back to that time.  The Reverend Mr. _______ gave out another appointment at half past seven.  Brother Goodson preached and Brother [Joseph] Fielding bore testimony after him and it came with power.  He then gave another appointment for Wednesday evening.  Brother Hyde preached and there seemed to be many that rejoiced that the Lord had sent his servants to preach to them.  The Reverend Mr. _______ closed his doors against us and found fault with us because we held forth the order of baptism, said we agreed we would not hold forth these things.  This was not so for we did not ask him for his house, but we prayed that the Lord would open his heart to let us preach in it and so he did and we gave God the glory.  After this there were private doors opened for us to preach.  We had two or three meetings every night and many began to bear testimony of the truth of the things which we declared and desired to be baptized.  Eight days after we arrived at Preston, nine presented themselves for baptism and I was appointed to baptize on Sunday morning and Brother Russel was appointed to preach in the market place at half past two in the afternoon.  This was concluded upon on Saturday evening and we retired to bed as usual. -----
A singular circumstance occurred before morning, which I will quote from Brother Hyde's journal, as he wrote it down.  He commences as follows:  "Elder Russell was much troubled with evil spirits and came into the room where Elder Kimball and myself were sleeping and desired us to lay our hands on him and rebuke the evil spirit.  I arose upon the bed and Br. Kimball got upon the floor and I sat upon the bed.  We laid our hands on him and Brother Kimball rebuked and prayed for him but just before he had finished his prayer, his voice faltered and his mouth was shut and he began to tremble and reel to and fro and fell on the floor like a dead man, and uttered a deep groan.  I immediately seized him by the shoulder and lifted him up, being satisfied that the devils were exceeding angry because we attempted to cast them out of Brother Russel and they made a powerful attempt upon Elder Kimball as if to dispatch him at once.  They struck him senseless and he fell to the floor.  Brother Russel and myself then laid

[P. 5, Column 1]
our hands on Elder Kimball and rebuked the evil spirits, in the name of Jesus Christ, and immediately he recovered his strength in part so as to get up.  The sweat began to roll from him most powerfully and he was almost as wet as if he had been taken out of the water.  We could very sensibly hear the evil spirits
rage and foam out their shame.  Brother Kimball was quite weak for a day or two after.  It seems that the devils are determined to destroy us and prevent the truth from being declared in England."  The devil was mad because I was going to baptize and he wanted to destroy me that I should not do those things the Lord sent me to do.  We had a great struggle to deliver ourselves from his hands.  When they left Brother Russel they pitched upon me and when they left me they fell upon Brother Hyde, for we could hear them gnash their teeth upon us.  Eight days after we got here, we held a counsel.  Brother Goodson and Brother Richards went to Bedford; Elders Russel and Snider went north about one hundred miles; Elder Hyde and Priest Fielding stayed at Preston, it is a large place.  There is betwixt fifty and sixty thousand inhabitants and the most poor people that I ever saw.  There are 55 now baptized and it is as much as they can do to live.  There is not more than one or two that could lodge us overnight if they should try, and in fact there are some that have not a bed to sleep on themselves, and this is the situation of most of the people in this place, and it is so in the country.  We cannot travel the streets without meeting beggars half naked.  This gives me feelings that I do not like.

     We have to live quite short but the brethren are very kind to us.  They are willing to divide with us the last they have.  They are quite ignorant; many of them cannot read a word and it needs great care to teach them the gospel so that they can understand.  The people here are bound down under priestcraft in a manner I never saw before.  They have to pay tithes to the priests of every tenth they raise, so that they cannot lay up one cent.  They are in the same situation the children of Israel were in Egypt.  They have their taskmasters over them to bind them down.  It will be as great a miracle to deliver this people as it was the children of Israel.

     There are a great many believing

[P. 5, Column 2]
ing in Preston; we are baptizing almost every day.  The Reverend Mr. ______ is like to lose all his members and the priests are mad, but they are afraid of us and durst not come near us.

     You stated in your letter that some of the twelve were coming to England next spring, and you say that they are calculating to bring their wives with them.  This I have no objection to, but if they come, they had better bring money to support themselves.  I think they had better take up with Brother Joseph's  [Smith] advice and leave their wives at home, for if they bring them here, they will repent the day they do it.  I do not wish to bring my wife to this place to suffer.  If they could see the misery that I do, they would not think of such a thing.  The Savior says, "He that is not willing to leave father and mother, and wife and children, brothers and sisters, houses and lands for my sake and the gospel, are not worthy of me."  We have had our own hired house since we have been here and bought our own provisions.  We do not eat but one meal at home, for the brethren invite us to eat dinner and supper with them.

     You stated that our brethren thought of appointing a conference in England next spring, but we know not what will happen before that time.  We know not how long we shall be here.  If we come home next summer, we shall come before they can get here.  The Lord says, "Take no thought for the morrow," and this is the way I feel at present.  I commit myself into His hands that I may always be ready to go at His command.  I desire to be content with whatever situation I am placed in.

     The 2nd week after I came here, a minister's daughter came in where I was and I commenced preaching to her the words of life.  She seemed to listen with great attention to me.  I told her I was going to preach in the evening; she said she would come and hear me.  She did so and the next night she came again and the next morning she sent for me to come and baptize her.  Accordingly, I went and baptized her.  This was on Friday morning and on Saturday she started for home.  She wanted me to come to her father's house for she thought her father would open his chapel for me to preach in.  I told her if there was a door open, I would come.  She appeared very intel-

[P. 6, Column 1]
ligent  and I have since learned that she was a person of great influence in the place where she lives, which is called Walkerford, about fifteen miles from Preston.  I saw her into the coach and she desired that I would pray for her and her father, that his heart might be softened, that he might not find fault with her.  I bade her farewell, went home at my lodging and found Brothers Hyde and Fielding and told them what I had done and that I wanted to call on the Lord and ask him to soften her father's heart that he might open his chapel for me to preach, etc.  Then we bowed before the Lord and we were agreed in asking for these things.  The next week I received a letter from her father requesting me to come to his house on Saturday, as he had given out for me to preach three times on the next Sabbath.  I accordingly went; he received me very kindly.  I preached in his chapel seven times, stayed there nine or ten days and preached thirteen times, and the Lord was with me and I baptized eight; almost every one that came to hear, believed.  The Reverend Mr. R. has preached here 33 years, he is a Presbyterian.  It caused me to marvel to see how the Lord is able to turn the hearts of the people.  Mr. R. did not receive my testimony, but the Lord softened his heart, that he might gather out his saints.  I never was treated better anywhere than by them.   While I was there, the Lord warned me in a vision to go back to Preston for I was wanted there; the Lord is with me and warns me of almost everything beforehand.  Walkerford is but two miles from the Catholic college.  The most of the people here are Catholics; they have threatened my life, but this does not scare me, for the Lord is with me, and you know that perfect love casts out all fear.  I feel firm in the Lord; I never enjoyed myself better than I do now, and it is so with Brother Hyde and all the brethren.            *            *            *            *

     Brothers Goodson and Richards went to Bedford and Mr. Matthews received their testimony and exhorted his people to do the same, and set a time to go forward and be baptized; and when the time came, he was missing and did not come.  He had turned against the work and been baptized by some of their ministers; and is

[P. 6, Column 2]
now preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins and calling on his members to be baptized.  He has written a letter to the Reverend Mr. _____ at Preston and says that the best of his people have left him.  The last we heard from the brethren there, they had baptized twelve.

     Brothers Russel and Snider that went north, we have not had the particulars from.  We have preached in the streets the most of the time, until our lungs are injured much.  We have large congregations to hear and the houses are very small in this place.

     We have had the Cock pit to preach in, two Sundays once a day, and next Sunday we have the privilege of preaching in it twice.  It will hold six or seven hundred people.

     Sept. 6 I am now going down to Walkerford to visit that little branch.--There is a great and affectual door opened there.  I had many calls in different places, and so it is here in Preston, more than we can attend to, and they are calling for us in the country.  Brother Hyde and myself went out ten miles last week and preached twice.  We had as many as could hear us. They had a shock of an earthquake here a few years ago, but they say it was nothing compared to this.  The people find much fault and threaten us much, because we get their best  members.  We tell them all we want is the wheat.

     I cannot tell you much on one sheet of paper, but I shall write again in about three weeks from the date of this.  You must forgive me, my dear Vilate, that I have been so negligent about writing to you, but I will not do so again.  I felt much gratified with the news you wrote in your kind letter.  I had many sorrowful hours thinking of the things in Kirtland.  It has been my prayer ever since I left that a reconciliation should take place.  I feel contented about you.  I know the Lord will take care of you and preserve you until I come home, and feed you and clothe you and the children.  And he will take care of me; give me your prayers and you shall have mine.  Be faithful, my dear companion.  Our labors will soon be over, when we shall meet to part no more forever.  I am glad you have Sister Fielding with you.  I hope she will stay with you until I come home.  Tell William and Hellen and Heber to be good children and pray for me, my

[P.7, Column 1]
love to all enquiring friends; write when you receive this, and let this sheet be an example for you, this to my dearest friend.

                                    HEBER KIMBALL.