Ruf aus der Wüste 5.4: Hyde on Illinois

For Hyde, Zion has been displaced, but not deferred.

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The governor of the neighboring state, to which we were sent, wandered incognito through the scenes of our persecution and saw our situation; and he and the citizens of his state (Illinois) received us with the greatest kindness.(1) They vacated houses for us and provided us with nourishment until we could provide it for ourselves. Yes, we can truly say of them, “We were strangers and they took us in; we were hungry and they fed us!” And although I am now far away, my heart calls out to the Lord for them: “God, thou omnibenevolent, bless them!”

Under these circumstances, we learned the truth of the old saying: “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church” — because just as soon as we arrived in Illinois, we began to preach in the houses, and if the weather permitted in the open air, in the open field and under copses of trees; and it was not uncommon to see fifty to a hundred people baptized in a day to be incorporated into our church. Among them was a man who owned 25,000 acres of land, which he sold to us for two dollars an acre, for which we would have had to pay him after twenty years without interest. But since then, he has generously signed a declaration waiving claim to all of it.(2) The state legislature gave us a charter to build a great city with the privilege of extending its borders as far as we wished. As a result of our rapid growth, the people of Missouri feared that if we came to full strength, we would return to chasten them and take back possession of our land. Therefore they threatened to fall upon us and drive us farther away. Petitions were then directed to our governor for protection; and he provided for our military organization, sent us cannons and light artillery, saw to it that we were all regularly armed, and finally ordered us to defend ourselves.(3)

Since our men then exercised and trained accordingly and undertook weapons practice for a considerable time, some have superciliously portrayed us in their newspapers as a martial and belligerent church.(4) In fact, I myself have even read such a report in a Regensburg news daily, which was presumably translated from an English or American newspaper.(5)

The name of the newly founded city is Nauvoa.(6) It is located on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, 40º north latitude, in the state of Illinois. Our people have immigrated to this city and its environs from all parts of the United States. Incidentally, around 1,500 have come from England, and just recently I received a letter from a friend of mine in England in which he tells me that close to 10,000 more will emigrate as soon as they have made the necessary arrangements for it. Part of them will depart this autumn and the others probably next spring. The time is no longer distant when many in every nation will be converted to our cause and will gather here (America), just as the farmer gathers his wheat at the time of harvest, or like the fisherman when he pulls his nets ashore. Because when the call is heard at midnight: “Come ye out from hence, my people”—then they will sleep no longer.

Therefore we wish for the rulers and great ones of the Earth as well as for all people everywhere to learn that God has established His kingdom and raised His banner, and that His voice will be heard far and wide, even to the ends of the Earth. Thus He has declared to His servant the prophet, Mr. Smith, that He will contend with this generation with fire and storm and earthquake, and that He will sweep away the godless by visiting them with every kind of plague and punishment. Earth’s vine must be pruned, for its grapes are fully ripe. But a place of refuge has already been prepared, and the kings will certainly seek it. Zion’s banner is unfurled and calls believers from every corner of Heaven to come to rest in its shade.(7)

Jerusalem will rise, for a word of grace has been spoken to her, though not to the benefit of those who oppress people or limit their privileges because they are Jews. I am not a Jew or the son of a Jew; but I am a friend of the Jews, for the salvation of the Christian religion causes them affliction.(8) If Christ had not been crucified and His blood had not been shed, He would not have been able to redeem mankind; someone had to kill Him, because He came into this world for that reason — but whoever killed Him had to tolerate beatings and suffering of all kinds. The Jews stepped forward and caused His death — and since then they have been under the scourge so that salvation could come upon the nations. Therefore, how ungrateful must any Christian be who despises a Jew! A person’s good qualities can best be measured by the number of hardships and deprivations he suffers in order to do good to others. What greater good could happen to the nations than Christianity casting its light upon them? Truly, there is none greater! And who among us has most suffered from being the cause of such blessing for the world? The Jews, and they suffer for it to this day. It seems that they were consigned, as it were, to a blind fate to do as they did; and the future will show whether they were not the world’s greatest benefactors after all and whether it was not in the eternal plan of the invisible God to let these great events happen.

At the conclusion of these collected thoughts, I might be allowed to say that I feel the greatest obligation for the kindness shown to me by Almighty God. First, He has allowed me to live in this time when I can see His light, which He has caused to shine for the knowledge of the nations — second, He has honored me to bring His name to the world and to proclaim the good news of these Latter Days in four parts of the world. Third, through the prayers of one of His servants and through the application of holy oil in His name, He completely delivered me from a malady that many doctors tried in vain to cure. Although many have said that I could have been healed without this application, I cannot give their words any credence, for it has become my conviction that I was delivered from my malady in the name of the Lord.(9)

I have now been away from my friends and family for almost three years, and the time of my return home is fast approaching. When I contemplate the hour when I will leave this place, a feeling of tenderness for my brothers in America rises in my chest. Although the acquaintances I made during my stay in Regensburg have been very precious to me, my heart is full of joy at the prospect of soon meeting those who have greater claims on my affection.

So will my feelings be also when the hour approaches when I will leave this world. Indeed, with the same willingness I hope to go to join that triumphant assembly of saints who are clothed in the robes of immortality up there in the light of Heaven.

When I returned from Syria, Palestine, and Egypt last February, I found it appropriate to stay in this area for a season or two to delight in the flowers of German literature, after spending various months among the thorns and thistles of an uncivilized world.

In order to fruitfully fill my idle hours, I offered some English lessons, and with the help of one of my students it was ultimately possible for me to revise this little work in the German language.(10)

Although I left my home on this great journey without taking with me so much as a dollar in money, an overcoat, a walking stick or protection from the elements, I have lacked for nothing. I have always had enough for myself, and also something left for those who were poorer than me. My confidence has not diminished in the least since then, for I believe that the One who spoke to me in nighttime visions and whose voice I heard at noon in the forests of America will continue to preserve me in every trial and will support me with the wings of His kindness until I have finished my work.(11)

O almighty Father! I ask You in the name of my Savior, Jesus Christ, to protect me from every evil, guide me through Your Spirit, and sustain me by Your power until death calls me away and my soul flees from its mortal dwelling place. Then, o then graciously receive me to You and give me a place in Your kingdom where the godless will cease to trouble us and the weary will enter into eternal rest.(12)

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(1) I haven’t heard this story before, and it sounds apocryphal. Didn’t Washington supposedly wander incognito among his troops like this?

(2) This is also something I don’t remember hearing before. Can this person be identified?

(3) We didn’t arm ourselves, the state of Illinois made use arm ourselves, Hyde seems to be saying. Another point of emphasis that differs from what I remember hearing about early Nauvoo.

(4) Oh, the irony.

(5) It might be impossible to find this article today, but it would be one of the earliest reports about the church in the German press.

(6) Misspelling in the original. It’s hard to say if the misspelling originates with Hyde or the printer.

(7) For Hyde, Nauvoo is not a postponement of building Zion. Nauvoo is the fulfillment of that element of prophecy.

(8) Hyde’s philosemitism is interesting and a variety that is new to me. While it places Jews firmly within the unfolding of a Christian story, they are to be blessed for it, not cursed for it, and at least in this passage, Hyde doesn’t suggest that Jews’ later reward will be dependent on their conversion to Christianity.

(9) Today, the story of Hyde’s conversion usually emphasizes its rational character and deliberative pace. Here, however, Hyde emphasizes divine intervention  (see also [11]).

(10) The precise workflow isn’t clear, but despite Hyde’s facility for learning German, my best guess based on the text is that Hyde’s student functioned as a translator, although Hyde may have been closely involved in the work.

(11) Hyde returns to the topic of his conversion and here emphasizes the receipt of personal revelation. The miraculous is clearly weighted more than the rational in this account.

(12) This ends Hyde’s collected thoughts that constitute the final chapter of Ein Ruf aus der Wüste, but Hyde isn’t done yet. There’s still a bit more to come.

7 comments for “Ruf aus der Wüste 5.4: Hyde on Illinois

  1. Thanks for all the work – I have been enjoying the whole series

    “Didn’t Washington supposedly wander incognito among his troops like this?”

    Don’t know about Washington, but supposedly Napoleon would disguise himself and wander about Paris to find out what his subjects thought of their emperor. There is also the famous scene from Henry V, the night before Agincourt, and a similar episode in Measure for Measure when the Duke investigates matters in a friar’s habit. Apparently there is a whole genre of disguised ruler plays.

  2. Bill, that’s interesting. We’re probably dealing with an early LDS popular legend in this case.

    Travis, there should eventually be a publication of some kind.

  3. To your question in footnote 2, I’m guessing the individual is Isaac Galland, who sold land to the Saints in Iowa for $2 an acre and was baptized. The land ownership was disputed, since it was part of the “Half-Breed Tract”, which would cause problems later on.

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